The Importance of Weather Safety in Sports

The crucial procedures that go into keeping athletes safe!


Air Academy runners running “strides,” or short accelerations, at practice. From left to right: Isaac Buttery(12), Olivia Chura(10), Lauren Myers(9).

For student-athletes at Air Academy High School, a focal point of every day is practice, where students go outside and improve in their sports. Sometimes though, the weather does not cooperate, but then what happens? Teams could keep practicing in rain or shine, or go inside and cancel for safety. Delaying practice can be frustrating, but it just might be necessary.

There are numerous guidelines that AAHS athletics need to follow in terms of the weather.

“They basically are district and CHSAA guidelines, and then there’s the base guidelines, but the district and CHSAA guidelines are stricter. It depends where we’re located at, but it’s 8-mile radius, so if there’s any lightning strikes within 8 miles you can’t, cannot be outside,” cross country coach, Chuck Schwartz, explained. 

According to the National Weather Service, on a page titled “How Dangerous is Lightning?” 90% of lightning victims are left with some form of disability and about 10% of those are fatal. Lightning safety is the primary concern of these guidelines and Schwartz believes they are very important.

“[Lightning safety] is of paramount importance. Paramount,” Schwartz stressed.

Especially in the spring, hypothermia is another key aspect of weather safety in sports since it is caused by spending too much time outside in frigid temperatures. 

“Single digits, wind chill. So if it gets below like ten degrees, you’re not allowed to have practice. And that’s another thing that’s dictated to us that we have no choice over. It’s just like when the reading’s there, you’re done. And with that situation, it usually doesn’t warm up. It’s usually getting colder,” Schwartz noted. 

For students, lightning delays might not even be a huge issue from their perspective since it allows for a break from practice.

“They’re pretty nice. The way it works can be weird, but sometimes it’s nice just getting a break from practice,” sophomore Sam Johnson stated.

Similarly, Schwartz appreciates safety procedures and adds that the explicit rules make it easier for coaches now.

“I do [agree with the guidelines]. It’s easier for coaches now because back 20 years ago we didn’t have any apps or anything, you just had to make a judgment call and that’s one I saw- I’ve never seen anyone get struck by lightning but I have seen kids, not necessarily my kids but- cold, something that maybe they, they were affected by it,” Schwartz commented.

Rules are there for a reason and AAHS sports have myriad protocols in place for everybody’s benefit. Whether guidelines have issues or not, safety is always of utmost importance for everyone and are implemented rightfully so.