MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) has added new safety rules for football practices in hotter temperatures.
The new heat policy limits practices to a maximum of two hours when the heat index is above 95 degrees, and to just one hour when it reaches 100 degrees.
There are also new minimum break time requirements for each temperature tier, and limitations on wearing full pads in practice when the heat index reaches 95 degrees. Each school is responsible for obtaining a wet-bulb globe thermometer as their first choice in evaluating conditions.
"I think the more detailed it is and restrictive it is can be frustrating, but at the same time it gives you peace of mind," Christian Brothers High School head football coach Thomas McDaniel said. "It lets you know what the expectation is and what you're supposed to do."
McDaniel said the new restrictions, also make it harder to condition athletes for playing games in higher temperatures.
"That's a little bit of a fear," he said. "I always truly believe they're doing what's best for the players. We all want to win and put the best product on the field but you have to take the players and their safety in consideration first and foremost.
Adjustments are nothing new for high school coaches these days, as the fate of fall sports hands in the balance amid the COVID-19 fallout.
"You kind of just have to sit and use your patience and be clear about what is most important thing and I think the most important thing is getting our country back to some form of normalcy," McDaniel said.
The hope is that high school football teams can return to practice this summer, safer than ever.