Texas ranks in the top 25 in the country when it comes to preventing high school athletes from dying on the field. That’s according to a study conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, which ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on how well they’ve implemented policies and procedures to curb student-athlete deaths.
More than 7.8 million American high schoolers play sports every year. As those students return to school nationwide after a long summer, many — particularly football players — are bracing for sizzling, scorching and unsafe temperatures of 90 and 100 degrees.
The Stringer Institute, named after an NFL player who died of heat stroke after a Minnesota Vikings practice, estimates there were 222 high school sports-related deaths over the last decade from the heat or otherwise. Furthermore, a 2006 study on sudden death in young competitive athletes found there are about 110 deaths every year in the U.S. — roughly one death every three days. The conversation has been thrust back into the spotlight following the June death of 19-year-old University of Maryland freshman Jordan McNair, who collapsed while running sprints and died two weeks later of heat stroke. His body temperature at the hospital reached 106 degrees.
When it comes to high school sports, some states are significantly better at preventing deaths than others, but all of them have room for improvement. Texas ranks No. 21 in the country at preventing such deaths, according to the Stringer Institute, which updated its rankings this month.
The researchers created a rubric to assess how individual states ranked in preventing such deaths. It consists of five equally weighted sections: sudden cardiac arrest, exertional heat stroke, traumatic head injuries, appropriate health-care coverage, and emergency preparedness.
The institute doled out scores from as low as 23 percent to as high as 79 percent. Texas earned a score of 50.80 percent.
Texas scores among the nation’s leaders in the emergency preparedness and sudden cardiac arrest categories, the study found. Texas has room to improve in the traumatic head injury,
appropriate healthcare coverage, and exertional heat stroke categories.