Schools use hot weather rule to protect student athletes from heat exhuastion

It's hot, and that means many metro school districts changed the way athletes practiced on the football field Tuesday.

Why? The Centers for Disease Control said a football player is the most likely athlete to fall victim to heat exhaustion.

Several school districts, like Shawnee Mission and Olathe, put their hot weather rule in place.

That means at schools like Shawnee Mission West athletes take mandatory five minute water breaks and rest in the shade when the temperatures hit the 90's.

"They get their breaks, things are crisper and they know it's going to end; sometimes I think they think some practices won't end,” head coach Tim Callaghan said.

The CDC said heat illness is a leading cause of death among high school athletes.

An estimated 9,000 high school athletes are treated for it each year, and the rate for football players is 11 times higher than of all sports combined.

It's why several districts have hired professional athletic trainers, trained in illness and injury prevention, to stand on the sidelines.

University of Kansas Hospital athletic trainer Ryan Sloop stands on the Shawnee Mission West football field not to watch the plays but to watch the players.

"I'm looking to see if someone was hurt or fatigued, or has heat exhaustion, concussions. They need someone to help them immediately,” Sloop said.

The CDC said most players get tackled by the effects of the sun two hours into practice, and at least two thirds of them show up significantly dehydrated.

"(They) should be (hydrating) a week before practice, you just make it become a habit year round so they don't have to worry about it," Sloop said.

A hydrated body can make the difference in winning and losing and how well an athlete plays the game. And around here at SMW, competition is tough; they were state football champs in 2012.

"This is hot but you got to push through it you got to train to be the best,” senior Donte Lindsey said.

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