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PIAA board approves 3-day heat acclimatization program for football

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By Andrew P. Shay
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

Every high school football program in Pennsylvania must go through a three-day heat acclimatization process this fall before regular practice can begin.

Thursday afternoon, the PIAA Board of Directors, by a 22-8 vote, approved a heat acclimatization program for football only starting with the 2013 season.

Earlier in the day at the Hershey Lodge, the PIAA football steering committee, by a 17-2 vote, approved the heat acclimatization program with an added option.

The option allows schools to either complete the three-day heat acclimatization process the week prior to the official start of practice or spend the initial three days of practice completing this process.

“The board and all the committees involved in this, the football steering committee, athletic directors, sports medicine and football coaches association, did a great job of carving out a process that puts athletes safety first,” PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi said.

During the heat acclimatization process, football players are permitted to wear helmets and shoulder pads the first two days. On the third day full protective equipment is permitted.

Contact is not permitted during the first two days of heat acclimatization, but full contact can take place on the third day.

No practice session during the heat acclimatization process can last more than three hours. And it must be followed by a break of at least two hours. And football teams are limited to a maximum of five hours of practice a day regardless of the length of each session.

Each head football coach must come up with a heat acclimatization proposal and submit it to the school principal for approval.

“It's going to be a little bit of a work in progress, but I think it's important we address heat,” Lombardi said. “This has been an issue for at least the last decade across the country with a number of heat-related deaths that were preventable.

“And this is a step in the right direction.”

Andrew P. Shay is a staff writer for

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