Football player

High school football players are used to scrapes and bruises, but they should also pay attention to the risk of heat stroke – especially as the climate warms.

Andrew Grundstein is a climate scientist at the University of Georgia.

Grundstein: “I was teaching a graduate seminar on health and heat, and one of the topics came up about Korey Stringer who was a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings who died from heat stroke. And we looked into it as a class, and realized no one had looked at the weather conditions that were associated with a lot of these football deaths.”

So Grundstein started researching heat-related deaths in high school players. With fewer medical staff to monitor them they are at higher risk.

Grundstein: “Before the mid-1990s, there was on average about one death a year, and after the mid-1990s it was approaching about three deaths a year.”

He is not yet sure what’s causing the increase, but Grundstein says two factors are likely at work: one, high school players are getting bigger, which makes it harder for them to cool off. And two, the climate is warming.

Grundstein: “There’s more frequent hot days, and that increases the hazard for players.”

And that means there’s a greater need to take precautions and watch for signs of heat stroke.

Reporting credit: Mark Knapp/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Health