Schools discuss safety first for football games in heat

High temperatures forced schools in West Michigan to delay football games on Sept. 22, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The first day of fall saw record highs in temperatures across West Michigan.

While the high temperatures make everyone uncomfortable, it makes the conditions for the kids playing high school sports dangerous.

No games were cancelled Friday, but eight of the 25 games in the O-K Conference were delayed by 30 minutes so temperatures had time to come down.

As fans gathered for Ottawa Hills High School’s homecoming game at Housman Field in Grand Rapids, fans were hitting the concession stands for cold beverages.

Over at East Kentwood, the turf’s temperature was 122 degrees before the game started.

“Safety for the kids is paramount, for kids on the field, even people in the stands, we’re gonna make sure everybody gets water,” East Kentwood Athletic Director Blaine Brumels said. “We’re gonna work at it to make everybody safe.”

Many schools had to adjust their plans because of the temperatures.

“We’ve never had this state in September, so we set up all the guidelines with all the ADs, tell them what to do and they have to follow through on it,” O-K Conference commissioner Jim Haskins said.

Union High School moved its game from 1 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. in hopes of avoiding the higher temperatures.

The school district’s athletic representatives meet throughout the year to develop protocols for different circumstances like Friday. Under Michigan High School Athletic Association rules, temperatures above 95 degrees call for changes like delayed starts, extended halftimes and mandated water breaks throughout the game.

Coaches are asked to combat the temperatures by keeping practices short and leaving pads off the players until the last possible moment.

Cross country, soccer and other fall sports will have to be evaluated and will likely be cancelled.

Check with your school to see if events are proceeding as originally scheduled.