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Sad wow gold events in recent days think it was the worst week in the last 35 years in terms of athlete death one expert told CNN make it feel as if it there an epidemic of deaths related to high school athletics.

In fact, research from 2010 showed more football players are dying now than in previous years. On average, between 1980 and 1994 there were fewer than two deaths a year. After 1995, the average went up to nearly three deaths a year. The study found a total of 58 football players died between 1980 and 2009. All but 10 were 18 or younger.

Some experts believe a lack of rules for working out is a factor in the deaths. And the climate scientists who conducted the 2010 research, published in the International Journal of Biometeorology, believe they found clues to why there are now more players dying.

Players are getting bigger. "Football players at all levels of competition and particularly linemen have increased in size over time" the study says, "the greater size would increase heat storage and therefore the possibility of heat related illnesses." The players who died were usually linemen, and the study shows 79 percent had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) categorizes a BMI more than 30 as obese.

It's getting hotter. Several studies have shown climate conditions are getting hotter and more humid. The researchers explain that that means there could be more "stressful meteorological conditions and thus an increased risk for heat related illnesses."

Morning practices, which are often scheduled so players can work out before the heat of the day, didn't keep players from dying. The study found more than half of the deaths between 1980 and 2009 were during the morning. Higher humidity, which is common in the morning, is the likely reason. "When the humidity is high, sweat won evaporate as quickly, which keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes.

Most of the football players died in August, according to the study. Not only is it one of the hottest summer months, but it is when many high school football practices first start. Researchers found "in 13 cases, news reports specifically noted that the death occurred within the first 3 days of practice" when players are less conditioned, and are more apt to be less accustomed to working out in the heat. An earlier study in Alabama found that "there were no environmental combinations at any time periods during the month of August for any locale in the state that would be considered safe for outdoors practice in full uniform"

Even when players are not wearing full uniforms they are still at risk of dying. The 2010 study found, "Many of the deaths, however, were among players wearing no pads and minimal clothing." They explained the likely reason is workouts in less clothing tend to take place in earlier practices when players are not accustomed to the hot and humid conditions.

To prevent these deaths, the researchers say, coaches need to monitor players, the temperature, and especially the humidity carefully.

The CDC lists signs of the deadly heatstroke which parents, players, and coaches can look out for. They include: stopping sweating, having hot and dry skin, a rapid strong pulse, a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and unconsciousness. Anyone suspected of heat stroke needs emergency help. The CDC says while waiting on paramedics you can get the victim out of the sun and cool them by spraying them with water.

One reason that was not cited is the increased use of artificial turf. There are many studies demonstrating that sthetic turf can be up to 30 40 degrees above ambient air temperature. Natural turf does not show such a temperature spike. Additionally, the recommended strategy to combat this spike was to water the artificial turf. This often creates dangereous humidity levels a few feet above the surface, in the activity zone. Furthermore, the cooling effect of the water is very short lived. Parents and coaches need to be aware of the effects of heat. This is even more true if the playing surface is synthetic.

The obesity isue has gotten so far out of control. (guess they don want to offend). Look at yearbooks from 25 yrs ago and then look at todays. Athletes and non athletes. Your comment is about the latter while the article is about the former. Athletes today are better trained than they were before. Also a higher percentage of kids are athletes than before due to there being more sports. So that just goes to show that non athletes must really be fat and out of shape to bring the statistics down to this level considering that there a great lift from athletes than ever before.

August 6, 2011 at 10:39

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But to be honest, I agree that kids are not in the shape they were in 30 years ago. Being on a high school team doesn mean you a athlete. All too often, it just means you taller and fatter than most of the others. Increased body fat means decreased ability to cool. When I started running, I was 50 lbs overweight. I had a terrible time running when it was hot even though I had no problem when it was cooler. Now, thirty five years (and 50 lbs) later, I don think twice about running in 95 degree weather.

August 7, 2011 at 02:22

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I agree that kids are more overweight now than they were years ago. I am an athletic trainer at a local high school and experience these hot and humid two a days first hand. There are plenty of kids on my football teams (especially my JV) who you can tell did who knows what over the summer, but it wasn working out. And my coaches do have football training year round, but not everyone goes. Those who go, get more playing time, but everyone still has to go through two a days. Also, the kids do not know proper nutrition, either. I had many kids vomitting on the sidelines because they ate greasy, fast food between practices for lunch or had heavy breakfasts and didn replace the fluids they lost from the day before. Kids aren as motivated now because quite a few are forced into signing up for a sport as a way of as both parents work and need someone to watch their kids after school. As sad as it sounds, it does happen. I work in a greenhouse where NORMAL day temps are above 100. I adjust. I sweat like crazy and drink eat properly. SOME do not cool themselves well. If a player is one of those people they need to be aware but I am also tired of parents making excuses for kids and not wanting them to work. The human body is unique in that it gets stronger with work. Evreyone has a limit and it important to know the difference between a limit and an excuse
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