One day after I wrote last week's column on Iowa banning two-a-day high school football practices effective this fall, the Illinois High School Association announced its own plan to battle heat illness. It didn't go as far as Iowa. Instead, it mimicked the NCAA, banning two-a-days on consecutive days.
Similar to Iowa's, Illinois' new policy outlines a 14-day heat acclimatization process based on a presentation by the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) at a joint meeting of the IHSA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and Football Advisory Committee on April 17.
Korey Stringer, a Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman, died in August 2001 of heat stroke suffered during a practice. Since Korey’s death, his wife, Kelci, had worked to develop an exertional heat stroke prevention institute. In April 2010, she joined with exertional heat stroke expert Douglas Casa Ph.D., ATC from the University of Connecticut to make KSI a reality.
“These guidelines are based on the most recent scientific evidence, as well as the expertise of the coaches who will help implement them,” Dr. Preston M. Wolin, a University of Illinois Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, said in an IHSA press release. “Both committees believe the guidelines represent a significant positive contribution to the health of our athletes.”
The IHSA can't mandate the rule changes until the summer of 2014. However, it is asking member schools to adopt the changes immediately.
Also during the April 17 meeting, both committees heard a presentation from the Sports Legacy Institute regarding head injuries and limiting contact. Rather than making a rule change to limit contact, though, the IHSA decided it would, according to its press release, “address the growing concerns over contact and head injuries in football by creating a 'best practices' presentation or video on football fundamentals... (which) would focus not only on technique, but also on philosophy.”
Arizona, Texas, and Washington, however, either have or are in the process of limiting contact during football practices.
As for Indiana, the state football coaches' association is collaborating with the IHSAA to have new heat- and contact-related rules in place for 2014.