Breaking News
More () »

UIL implements new way to keep athletes safe in the heat - measuring wet bulb temperatures

The wet bulb replaces last year’s heat index reading. The magic number is 92.1. Above that, practice is canceled.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — This year, the UIL has issued a new rule governing outdoor athletics in heat. 

Football is the most notorious sport in the Texas heat for its two-a-day practices. But the new rule applies to all athletes, from baseball to tennis, who play outdoors. What’s new? The wet bulb replaces last year’s heat index reading. The magic number is 92.1. Above that practice is canceled.

Even at 11:30 a.m. during the first practice of the day, the heat is already brutal. There is ice, water, scheduled breaks - all the traditional cool-down aids. But this year, coaches must use something new, the wet bulb. 

“I’m no meteorologist but the way I understand it, it reads humidity, ambient temperature, wind speed, radiation angle things like that and puts it into some fancy formula and gives us a temperature reading," Fort Bend ISD Ridge Point Coach Rick LaFavers explained.

Different readings allow for different tiers of practices with varying durations, required breaks and amount of gear worn.

Coaches also use a weather app purchased by school districts for monitoring weather.  The app includes the wet bulb readings and what practice tier allowed.

LaFavers says, “As coaches this is what we have to constantly govern us because we don’t have laptops or meteorologists.” 

Afternoon practices are hard to predict.  Some days they are cancelled or only run through partway.

LaFavers says, “The wet bulb is supposed to be more accurate. I think it’s more strict than the heat index.”

Shern-Min Chow on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Before You Leave, Check This Out