Across the country, high school football practice two-a-days are underway. The grueling practices are being held amid a record heat wave. And the football deaths are mounting of late.
In the last two weeks, the high school football community across the South has suffered from at least four such incidents, losing three players and an assistant coach.
Who's responsible? And what can be done?
The aforementioned deaths included Georgia's Forrest Jones of Locust Grove High School and Donteria Searcy of Fitzgerald High School; Tyquan Brantley from Lamar High in South Carolina; and assistant coach Wade McLain from Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas.
While only McLain's death has officially been linked to the heat, the southern United States is currently experiencing a record-breaking heat wave.
With football players decked out in pads in the heat of the afternoon, it's often difficult to stay hydrated and keep the body cool, leading to heat stroke and other related illnesses.
Schools are at least somewhat responsible for the health and safety of these students, meaning that they must take reasonable steps to prevent heat-related deaths.
Coaches should only hold practices when it is safe to do so, continuously call breaks for hydration, and keep an eye on players.
However, players and their parents should not rely on coaches to do this, as history has shown that such measures are not always taken. Teenagers and younger players should be taught to hydrate and to tell an adult if the heat is making them feel sick.
Heat-related deaths involving football players can usually be prevented by proper safety and communication.