You may have noticed that virtually the entire country is in the clutches of a massive heat wave right now. The dramatically elevated temperatures also make for dangerous conditions as high school football practices kick off in most states across the country.
That’s particularly true in Texas, where temperatures that flirt with triple digits are the norm in August. This year is no exception, and according to a new report from San Antonio CBS affiliate and TEGNA partner KENS, local schools are now facing conditions that flirt with the real-feel temperatures where heat exhaustion and heat stroke become a likelihood, not just a possibility.
Here’s KENS on the baseline temperature realities facing Texas high school football during early August practice sessions:
To maintain a normal body temperature without the help of heating or cooling devices, the surrounding environment needs to be no warmer than about 80 degrees when you factor in the humidity. Once the air around you hits 90 degrees, you can experience heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Once you rise to between 105 degrees and 130 degrees, heat exhaustion is likely. But if the environmental temperature exceeds 130 degrees, that temperature often leads to heat stroke.
Wednesday: High of 99, humidity of 56 percent, heat index real feel temperature: 121 degrees
Thursday: High of 100, humidity of 54 percent, heat index real feel temperature: 124 degrees
Friday: High of 100, humidity of 53 percent, heat index real feel temperature: 124 degrees
Saturday: High of 96, humidity of 57 percent, heat index real feel temperature: 116 degrees
Remember: When the air around players feels like it is between 105-130 degrees, heat exhaustion is likely. When it tops 130 heat stroke is likely. Three of the four practice days remaining this week feature heat index temperatures just barely below where heat stroke becomes likely.
All of this raises critical questions about heat policies and the appropriateness of outdoor practice in the height of summer heat. No one denies it is important for athletes to acclimate themselves to the natural conditions they will be competing in when the season kicks off in less than a month.
Still, that acclimation may not be worth the cost of such elevated risk of heat stroke. If discretion is the better part of valor, the rest of the first full week of prep football practice might be a very good time to employ some discretion.