FHSAA Board Approves Heat Acclimatization Policy Changes; Delays Start of STUNT Until 2014-15

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors continued its emphasis on student-athlete safety Monday morning, approving a policy proposal to make changes to the current heat acclimatization policy, using recommendations from its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. Additionally, the Board took action to delay the beginning of STUNT until the 2014-15 school year, citing scheduling concerns.

The heat acclimatization policy which went into effect in the summer of 2012, will undergo the following changes, effective July 1, 2013:

1.    Changing the time limit to three hours for a practice during the first two weeks in order to stay consistent with NCAA rules which use the three-hour benchmark.
2.    Walk-throughs are not permitted on days that have two practice sessions.
3.    Weekly practice time shall not exceed 24 hours for days 8-14.
4.    Voluntary conditioning—defined as prior to the first official date of practice—is recommended not to exceed three hours.

Football specifically, had significant changes of its own, detailed below:

1.    Helmets only the first two days of practice.
2.    Shoulder pads added on days 3-5.
3.    Full gear and body contact begin on day 6.
4.    Six practice sessions are required before any student-athlete is available to participate in a contest.
5.    During first five days of practice, arm shields, tackling and blocking dummies, sleds and other devices can only be used for teaching. Deliberate body-to-body contact is prohibited.

The regulations within the FHSAA heat acclimatization policy are based on medical literature and are considered the minimum regulations for preseason practices while lending guidance in regard to running voluntary conditioning programs.

In regard to the concussion policy, the Board approved re-defining the definition of an appropriate heath care provider to be only a licensed physician or a licensed osteopathic physician.

The Board also placed the implementation of STUNT on hold until the 2014-15 school year with the purpose of gathering more information regarding the collegiate status of the sport along with conducting more research on the best time to schedule the sport.

A proposal to change the dates of the sport seasons for bowling, cross country and competitive cheerleading was accepted by the Board and will begin in the upcoming 2013-14 school year. The table below lists updated important dates for each of the aforementioned sports.

Sport Start Date First Regular Season Contest District Tournament State Finals
Bowling Aug. 5 Aug. 26 Oct. 28 Nov. 6-7
Cross Country Aug. 5 Aug. 31 Oct. 24-26 Nov. 9
Competitive Cheerleading Oct. 14 Nov. 4 N/A Jan. 30-Feb. 1