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Most athletic coaches, officials consider risks of extreme temperatures on athlete health

Most athletic coaches, officials consider risks of extreme temperatures on athlete health

August 12, 2022

1 min read


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According to survey results, most Texas high school and collegiate athletic coaches, staff and trainers are considering the implications of extreme heat on outdoor sports athletes.

Sylvia G. Dee, PhD, and colleagues used numerical climate simulations to predict changes in summer temperatures, heat indices and wet bulb temperatures across Texas through the year 2100. Researchers conducted a 22-question survey that gauged the attitudes of 224 Texas high school and collegiate coaches and officials (51% of whom coached football) on climate change and student athlete health.


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Researchers found ambient mean summer temperatures in Texas are expected to rise by 6° to 8° Fahrenheit (F) by 2100, while maximum heat index and wet-bulb temperatures are expected to rise by 15° to 23° F and 5° to 6° F, respectively.

Overall, 87.77% of respondents reported factoring extreme heat into decision-making for practice modifications or cancellations. Survey results showed a positive correlation between athletic directors’ concern about increasing temperatures and canceled practices due to high temperatures. Athletic staff also showed concern for adjusting practice times and moving practices indoors, as well as planning for more water breaks, less intense practices, equipment changes and heat acclimation.

Dee and colleagues noted most athletic officials placed a heavier emphasis on the impact of increasing temperatures rather than climate change, demonstrating a bias toward short-term impact. According to the study, 38% of respondents were “very concerned” with the effect of daily temperatures; however, 30% were “not concerned at all” with the general effects of climate change.

“Despite the clear trend toward increasingly dangerous hot weather conditions, some athletic staff still do not acknowledge the changing climate and its implications for student athlete health,” the researchers wrote in the study. “Enhancing climate change and health communication across the state may initiate important changes to athletic programs (eg, timing, duration, intensity and location of practices), which should be made in accordance with increasingly dangerous temperatures and weather conditions,” they concluded.