Football is more dangerous than some people realize.  That’s because an average of two football players die each year of heat-related medical problems.

And statistics show that most deaths occur in August, when players are just beginning to ‘pad up’ for practice, in some of the hottest weather of the year. In fact, you may have heard about two high school players in Georgia who recently died from heat exposure. And in the NFL, a player from the Philadelphia Eagles was recently taken to a hospital because he suffered from dehydration.

In response, the NFL commissioner recently passed a new rule requiring teams to hold practices after 6 o’clock, when temperatures tend to be cooler.

Health experts say one of the problems is that players don’t speak up when they’re struggling in extreme heat. After all, football players are supposed to be “tough”.

But know this: Experts say it’s foolish for even the best-conditioned athletes to exert themselves in 100-degree heat! That’s why it’s vital for players and coaches to understand the importance of drinking lots of water in hot weather. 

Parents also need to make sure their kids get enough sleep before practices and games.  That’s because heat stroke is less likely if players are well-rested. 

And players: Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel light-headed or dizzy because of the heat. As one expert put it: Once a kid collapses of heat stroke, there’s no do-over.