Concerns About Football Practices in the Extreme Heat



The Desert Review has a new column for those who are inquisitive about the way the Valley runs. “The Forum” will dig deep to uncover the unknown and hidden, and open a dialogue on wrongs perceived or recognized.

Q With football season here again and heat warnings in effect, it seems appropriate that local schools would follow CIF recommendations. Many, including Brawley high school, do not seem to follow these recommendations. Athletic directors, principals, and  coaches attend CIF meetings in San Diego and are trained on how to properly acclimate athletes to heat. Yet the practices they’ve been doing for 30 years  still continue – despite all the warnings and recommendations. When you’re a parent of one of these athletes you may be fearful speak up for fear of retribution and embarrassment of your child. 

~Concerned Parent


A After talking with Billy Brewer, athletic director for BUHS, we have been told that the football team takes many precautions in this extreme heat as per the CIF recommendations to acclimate with the weather.  Once it hits over 105 everyone has to keep watch over the players.  And since Brewer also had a son on the team a year ago, this topic is a personal one for him.

According to Brewer, to acclimate to the heat, the activities of all three levels of football are limited during the day.  Even hell week was not as “hellish” as its name would imply this year.  Practices that were normally held twice a day every day were changed to twice every other day.

Players are only allowed 15 minutes of “contact” time, or time that involves tackling during practice. When they do not have to run drills the players do not have the helmets or pads on to reduce risk of heat related injury and take 20-30 minute breaks in between.

If that is not enough, Brewer said, players can go and cool down if they are feeling too hot during the practice. The showers, which have been up for seven years already, are there for whenever the players feel the need to cool off and not wait until it is too late.

This is actually an upgrade from what the team used to have.  According to Brewer, the high school used to have what could only be considered a horse trough filled with water and ice. If a player got too hot they would be dunked in to cool them off, but at that point, someone would need to start making phone calls. They now offer preventive measures rather than reactive ones.

As for at the actual games, there is plenty of water available on both sides of the field with water girls running around for both teams.  There are even swamp coolers set up directly behind the teams blowing cool air on them.  The referees will call more water breaks on top of that if they feel everyone needs more hydration, Brewer told the DR.

For Brewer and the coaches, the health of the students is the top priority, Brewer could not express that enough.

Brewer encourages any concerned community member to contact him at his cell phone number at (760) 554-0016.

Hopefully, with the current trend of slightly cooler weather in the evenings and during the day there will be less of a heat threat to the players.