Schools Focus on Athletes' Safety in Heat

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ATLANTA (AP) - As temperatures across Georgia hover in the 90s,
school athletic practices are focused as much on hydration and
taking breaks as they are on learning how to pass the ball.

Yesterday was the first official day of football practice season
under Georgia High School Association rules. All practices before
then were voluntary workouts.

Most practices are early in the morning or later in the evening
to avoid the day's hottest hours. At many schools, practice moves
indoors when the temperature rises to 95 degrees.

Football players shed pads, helmets and uniforms on hot days and
practice in just T-shirts and shorts. Some schools provide tents on
the sidelines to shade the players.

And water. Lots of it.

Safety is fresh in many coaches' minds as Rockdale County High
School mourns 15-year-old Tyler Davis. He died yesterday after
suffering heat stroke following a voluntary football practice one
day earlier. The outdoor practice was about two hours long, with
frequent water breaks.

The rising junior became at least the fifth football player nationwide to die this summer from heat-related problems.

While some states like Texas have adopted statewide safety
guidelines, the Georgia High School Association leaves such
strategies up to each school system.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)