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OUR VIEW: Youth tourneys need to be aware of heat

Hundreds of youth players endured triple-digit temperatures over the weekend at Mitchell's annual Lowell Rang Memorial Softball Tournament. Battling a hotter-than-usual mid-June sun, teams took to the diamond for the two-day event and utilized pr...

Hundreds of youth players endured triple-digit temperatures over the weekend at Mitchell’s annual Lowell Rang Memorial Softball Tournament.

Battling a hotter-than-usual mid-June sun, teams took to the diamond for the two-day event and utilized precautions to avoid heat exhaustion, sunburn and heatstroke. Water, sunscreen, cool towels were frequently used during Saturday’s June 11 record-setting temperature in Mitchell of 100 degrees, and on-site trainers were available when needed.

At least eight girls, according to tournament officials, were treated for “mild” heat exhaustion. We’ve heard that some of the tournament’s umpires were continuingly checking on players to ensure their safety. We applaud tournament organizers for everything they did to help over the weekend, as the Lowell Rang is a big deal each summer for the city.

We cannot help but wonder, though, at what point youth sporting events such as this weekend’s softball tournament should be called off due to heat.

Luckily, only “mild” heat exhaustion was treated this weekend, and tournament officials planned to take stricter procedures had the heat index hit 105. Again, we commend everyone who was involved in helping keep all the players healthy as possible while enjoying a fun weekend of softball.

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But there has to be a certain point where enough is enough, for any outdoor summer sporting event that involves youth. For instance, had there been thunderstorms over the weekend - we presume lightning would have put a stop to the games until the weather cleared.

Heat, however, is more of a gray area.

The sudden risk of death or injury isn’t nearly as apparent with heat as lightning. And, kids sometimes don’t recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion soon enough, or they simply want to tough it out and play through it.

It’s not extremely common for our part of the country to notch 100-degree temperatures. Prior to the weekend, the last time Mitchell saw 100 degrees or higher was Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, 2012.

But once in awhile, South Dakota’s temperatures get pretty uncomfortably hot. We saw that over the weekend.

That’s why youth tournament officials for summer events should have a threshold and policy in place for heat. Heat-related illnesses can cause dizziness, fainting, vomiting and, in some extreme cases, death.

If well-thought out policies are set in place and agreed upon prior to youth events on when to stop a tournament due to excessive heat, there’s no uncertainty as to when enough is enough. Everyone is aware of the rules and everyone adheres to them.

Now that we got a too-close-for-comfort look over the weekend at what heat can do to youth players, we should be thinking progressively on this issue and how to guarantee safety.

Related Topics: OUR VIEWYOUTH SPORTS
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