As practices gear up for high school football, Georgia schools have stricter guidelines to follow this year. August 1st is the first day Georgia students are allowed to practice in full padding and gear.
The Georgia High School Association put down the guidelines in March. Last season, two Georgia high school football players died during summer workouts, but the GHSA says these guidelines were in the works for the last three years and were not in direct response to the deaths.
The new guidelines focus heavily on the outdoor temperature and the level of activity students can do during practices. Here is the temperature scale which must be followed at each practice:
-Under 82.0 degrees: normal activities- provide at least three separate rest breaks each hour of minimum duration of 3 minutes each during workout
-82.0-86.9 degrees: Use discretion for intense or prolonged excercise; watch at-risk players carefully; provide at least 3 separate rest breaks each hour of a minimum of four minutes duration each
-87.0-89.9 degrees: Maximum practice time is two hours. For football: players restriced to helmet, shoulder pads and shorts during practice. All protective equipment must be removed for conditoning
-90-91.9 degrees: Maximum practice is one hour, no protective equipment and no conditioning excercises, 20 minutes of rest per hour
-92 degrees and over: No outdoor workouts, cancel excercise
For rest breaks and hydration, the guidelines specify if the temperature is over 86 degrees ice towels and spray bottles filled with water must be available at the "cooling zone" to aid the cooling process. Also cold immersion tubs must be available for practices.
Any Georgia high schools violating these policies will be fined a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $1,000.
Locally, the head coach at Glynn Academy Rob Ridings says he fully supports the guidelines and the safety of the players is the school's number one priority.
"We give them breaks every 15 or 20 minutes and we try to keep them out of the hot part of the day as much as possible," says coach Ridings.
Glynn County's athletic director Steve Waters says they also speak to the players about knowing their limits in the heat.
"They know at any time if they are feeling dizzy or overheated, they can go to a coach or a trainer and they will take good care of them," says Waters.
First Coast News also spoke with Carlton Searcy via phone Tuesday afternoon. Searcy's son, DJ Searcy of Fitzgerald High School in Georgia, died while at a football camp in Lake City last year.
Searcy says while the guidelines are a step in the right direction, he wants to see the legislature get involved and make laws against pushing student athletes too hard. He also wants to the punishments for breaking the guidelines to be harsher.
I just hope that everybody can learn from his (DJ Searcy's) sacrifice, that's what is key," says Carlton Searcy.
First Coast News