By ERIC X. VICCARO
The Missouri State High School Activities Association a couple of years ago announced a new statewide policy for activities practicing under extremely hot conditions.
“The MSHSAA board of directors approved the Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer (WBGT) as the recommended measurement practice and device for measuring acceptable heat/humidity levels,” the state’s scholastic governing body said on its website.
MSHSAA said the use of the WBGT is recommended throughout the calendar year when temperatures exceed 80 degrees.
A list of suggested wet-bulb globe thermometer is located on the sports medicine page at: mshsaa.org.
The average cost of a WBGT device is roughly $170. Some heat-index monitors can cost as much as $250 or as little as $100 according to the hardware website: grainger.com.
The thermometer features a relative humidity range from five to 95 percent. The temperature range is from 32 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
The wet-bulb range is from 70-115 degrees F, with the dew point range from -85 to 115 F.
The black globe temperature range extends to 176 degrees F.
The gauge features an LCD display, and typically uses AAA batteries.
Most manufacturer’s have a one-year warranty length on this device.
In late July, Ste. Genevieve R-II athletic director Dr. Jeff Nix was seen taking readings with the WBGT device during a sultry football scrimmage between the Dragons and visiting Cuba.
To read the WBGT, slide down the protective sensor cover before taking measurements.
The display mode takes WBGT, air temperature, black globe temperature and relative humidity. An icon will appear in the display indicating the current selection. Readings can be taken in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.
“Any changes are determined by the reading on the WBGT,” Nix said. “It tells you if you can practice outside or not, how often you have to take breaks, what equipment the players are allowed to wear, etc.”
Nix said this is the third season using this special guidance.
The meter measures the index with or without direct sun exposure. Those taking the readings are asked to press the mode button for more than one second to alternate between settings.
Temperatures, even at 9 a.m., were approaching the danger zone. The monitor reported 86 degrees at that time, and it was only going to get hotter.
“The guidance from MSHSAA has affected our early-season practices because it does dictate what we can and cannot do outside,” said Ste. Genevieve head girls’ golf coach Rachel McDaniel.
The coach accentuated the positive, despite missing two outdoor sessions last week due to excessive heat.
“Having some practices in the nets indoors (at Progress Sports Complex) allowed us to get some good swing habits established early,” she said.
Most of last Thursday’s practice was spent working on swings, and the golfers even watched instructional videos on their laptops.
“We have been practicing at 7 a.m. when the temperature has been in the 60s and 70s,” Valle Catholic head cross country coach Samer Zoughaib said.
However, with school starting today, Zoughaib is uncertain with how practice will unfold.
“Our team has continued morning practices to avoid the afternoon heat,” Ste. Genevieve head cross country coach Sierra Boyd explained.
Boyd said the Dragons will be “flexible” with practice time and use alternate methods of training if they can’t practice outside.