Coaches and athletic officials in Texas have indicated that many are aware of the risks their students face because of rising temperatures associated with climate change and are planning accordingly, say Rice University researchers who conducted the statewide study.
What to know:
Hundreds of coaches and athletic directors at Texas high schools, colleges, and universities say they are aware of the dangers of intensive workouts and strenuous events when temperatures rise above 95° F, which can put athletes at risk of heat-related illnesses.
A 2021 report from the Texas State Climatologist’s office said Texans should expect the number of 100° days each summer to nearly double by 2036 compared to the average numbers from 2001–2020.
While the athletic staff indicated they’re keeping a close eye on dangerous heat, humidity, and wet bulb temperatures, not all agree they should adjust schedules or cancel practice, saying there may be a lack of understanding among athletic staff in how humidity affects the perceived temperature.
Wet bulb temperature is the temperature of a parcel of air at 100% humidity. Basically, it’s the point at which sweat can no longer cool the body, leading to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and exertional heat illness.
Almost a third of the athletic staff involved in the study placed heavier emphasis on and were more concerned about the impact of temperature than climate change, declining to acknowledge climate change or its implications for the health of athletes and their programs.
This is a summary of the article, “Increasing Health Risks During Outdoor Sports Due to Climate Change in Texas: Projections vs Attitudes,” published by the American Geophysical Union journal GeoHealth on August 1, 2022. The full article can be found on agu pubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.
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