Aug 30, 2018
Up in Smoke

Smoke from wildfires in Canada and California have resulted in poor air quality in several states. As a result, coaches and athletic trainers have had to take extra precautions at practices.

As reported by KFYR-TV, athletic trainers at Bismarck (N.D.) Public Schools have worked with coaches to find a way to continue with practices despite the smoky conditions. The football team for Bismarck High School has had many practices inside even with their first game coming up quickly. Though the area has had smoky conditions in the past, it has been more of an issue this year. Game schedules could potentially be changed, though that decision would be made later, if necessary.

“That’s something that we’ll have to address day by day and certainly be prepared to make necessary changes if the air quality is that bad,” Blaine Steiner, MS, LAT, ATC, Athletic Trainer for Bismarck Public Schools, said.

When the football team can get outside, coaches have worked to decrease the intensity at practices, ensure there are a number of water breaks, and adjust practice length.

“It hasn’t been a huge issue, but there’s been some days that we’ve talked about shortening practice,” Mark Gibson, Head Football Coach at Bismarck High School, said.

Athletic trainers have also been on hand to make sure student-athletes are safe when practicing outside. This is especially important for individuals who have respiratory problems.

“We haven’t seen anybody act up any different than normal, you know we have the asthma kids that we’ve kept a closer eye on,” Gibson said.

The air quality has been affecting schools in other states, as well. According to the Peninsula Daily News (Port Angeles, Wash.), athletic trainers and coaches in Washington are dealing with similar modifications for practices.

“It’s everywhere, and it’s affecting every single school,” Lysa Falge, Port Townsend High School Athletic Director, said. “We’ve got all coaches on hold and all practice facilities open to share with each other.”

Many of the high schools in the area have moved their practices inside. Although this still meets practice criteria for football players to become eligible to participate in games, the time is not as valuable as outdoor practices.

“That’s where there seems to be the bigger concern about football,” Falge said.

The Seattle Times reports that many football teams in the region have been practicing in gymnasiums, where they focus on what can be done instead of the drills that require being outdoors. With the smoke being a widespread issue, the practicing field is relatively even.

“It’s disappointing not to be able to get them outside and be confined to a gym,” Michael Bumpus, Football Coach at Monroe High School, said. “Thankfully it sounds like most of our (WesCo 4A) league is indoors, so no one is getting an advantage.”

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