Debate over guidelines for conducting preseason football practices.
While legal experts wait to see what will come of the arraignment of Pleasure Ridge Park, Ky., football coach David Jason Stinson, who was indicted in the August 2008 heat-stroke death of 15-year-old lineman Max Gilpin, medical experts find themselves debating the efficacy of what had been considered well-established guidelines for conducting preseason football practices. Given the collapse of former Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer or any of the other 33 high school, college or professional players who have suffered heat-related deaths since 1995, most coaches are aware of the commonsense approaches to beating heat - providing water and shade, and limiting practices to cooler times of the day.
Now the Kentucky Medical Association's Committee on Physical Education and Medical Aspects of Sports, which makes recommendations to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association every two years about ways to prevent heat stroke, is considering adding to the standard equipment list a small pool of ice water into which affected players can be immersed. Doug Casa, director of athletic training education at the University of Connecticut and an expert in heat-stroke prevention, noted in the Louisville Courier Journal that studies of hundreds of heat-stroke victims, including athletes and members of the military, show its effectiveness in saving lives. "It's probably one of the few medical emergencies when treating on site is better than transporting someone," Casa told the paper. "The key to surviving heat stroke is getting your temperature to approximately 104 in about 20 minutes."