September 10, 2012

Football in the Heat

States are considering new guidelines to protect players.

Scott: Florida high school football star Isaiah Laurencin was just 16, but already had an athletic scholarship offer from Notre Dame.

He was a six-foot-three, 286-pound powerhouse.

But in July of last year, on his first “two-a-day” practice in stifling heat, Isaiah collapsed and died.

“I just don’t understand how this happened, because, you know, my son was in the hospital the year prior he was hospitalized for heat exhaustion. I still don’t understand how they allowed it to happen the second time.”

Just days later, in Georgia, high school football star DJ Searcy died, during a tough “three-a-day” practice schedule at a football camp.

The last time his parents saw DJ it was in this photo a fellow player texted to his mom’s phone.

“Jaclyn received a text message from one of the kids, who had taken a picture of our son laying on the floor and he told her, ‘You need to check on your baby.’ But we still hadn’t heard from the coaches. No one – when we tried to call the coaches – no one would answer the phone.”

Later they learned he’d also collapsed after practice the night before, and allegedly got no medical attention.

Authorities in both cases blame other conditions, not the heat.

Isaiah had a genetic blood disorder. And they say DJ had an undiagnosed heart condition.

But their parents disagree. They’re suing the schools, saying they didn’t do enough to prevent their deaths.

More than 75 football players in the U.S. have died of heat-related causes since 1975 – seven last year alone.

This lawyer represents Isaiah and DJ’s families.

“The NFL, the NCAA, have more guidelines, more protections, to protect adults than high schools have to protect children, and that’s simply not acceptable. Every doctor to a one has said these deaths are completely avoidable. These children are dying because people aren’t watching the signs.”

Experts say if heat victims are simply placed into a cold bath within 10 minutes of collapse, they all survive.

University of Georgia researcher Michael Ferrera says states should adopt the guidelines from the National Athletic Trainers Association.

“The first five days of football practice – or of any practice for that matter – is a maximum of two hours, and no equipment except for a helmet in the sport of football.”

About a dozen states now have safety guidelines. Some require having an athletic trainer and an ice bath on site.

“There’s no win that’s worth the life of my child – anyone’s child actually. He paid the ultimate price.”

“I just wish I had my son here, you know?

Scott Evans, Channel One News.


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