The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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August 27, 2013

Schools are getting smarter about playing in the heat

We’re used to snow days and rainouts. We’ve seen the occasional lightning delay, too.

During the winter and spring sports seasons, we have to be on the lookout for postponements due to weather.

They’re more rare in the late summer and fall when things turn fairly dry, and sports such as football go on regardless of the weather conditions.

So it seemed somewhat out of place to see so many schedule changes announced on a sunny Monday in August.

Locally, a tennis meet was moved from this afternoon to morning, a soccer game was pushed into later this evening and a cross-country meet scheduled for today in Austin was cancelled all together.

The trend is taking place throughout the state as a summer swelter pushed through the Midwest. Temperatures hit the 90s on Monday with heat indexes in the 100s. The heat wave is supposed to continue today.

According to tweets from the Minnesota State High School League, some schools Monday canceled practices and moved others indoors where the athletes could work out in air conditioning.

The Mankato North Mankato Youth Football program instructed its coaches that players are not to wear pads or helmets in practice during this week’s oppressive conditions.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the idea of canceling a practice or a game due to hot weather would be unheard of. Certainly, many of us have heard stories about the old days of grueling two-a-day practices in brutal heat that allegedly toughened up players.

Bear Bryant’s “Junction Boys” achieved almost mythological status for surviving the legendary coach’s hellish camp at Texas A&M nearly 60 years ago. Little or no water was provided for the players, many of whom quit.

Bryant’s actions were credited for turning around the fortunes of a once-struggling program. Today, they might be seen as criminal.

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