Football players of all ages pride themselves on their toughness, both physically and mentally. However, that same toughness of spirit on the part of Georgia high school football coaches could inadvertently lead to a wrongful death if a player succumbs to the excessive heat early in the season. It seems that every year, there is a report of at least one teen who dies during a practice or game.
There are restrictions that apply to the practice sessions that are held in the heat of summer. However, there are no such regulations in place during the games themselves. As a result, players are frequently exposed to intense heat and humidity which raises their risk of suffering a heat-related illness or getting injured. These types of injuries can lead to long-term negative consequences for the health of these teenagers, sometimes even causing a fatality.
The football season recently began here in Georgia, and already there have been problems caused by the heat. One game was postponed when the temperatures on the playing surface reached 130 degrees. During another game, there were frequent delays while the players attempted to deal with cramps and other heat-related health problems. So far this season, no one in our state has died from excessive heat exposure, but thousands of kids may be at risk unless changes are made.
There may be solutions to the problem, but it may prove difficult to make effective changes because old habits and traditions die hard. Unfortunately, there may well be another needless fatality before any meaningful changes are seriously considered. If a family loses a child under these tragic circumstances, they retain the right to assess the feasibility of filing a wrongful death civil suit against any party deemed negligent. If enough evidence exists to establish financial liability, a civil court may award the family a judgment for monetary damages sustained that could also possibly help force a change to protect other players in the future.
Source: statesboroherald.com, “My Take: Heat a concern for prep football”, Mike Anthony, Aug. 25, 2014