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Steamy Conditions Change The Playing Field For Athletes

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CBS Minnesota (con't)

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BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) — Athletes are having a difficult time playing sports in this extreme heat.

At the National Sports Center in Blaine Tuesday night, soccer players fought tough opponents on the field and fought the brutal elements of pure heat and humidity.

“You can’t breathe. Your throat gets clogged up, and it’s so difficult,” said player Rachel Olson with the Minnesota Thunder Academy.

It was 102 degrees just after 5 p.m. Tuesday, making it a second straight day for the record books on the temperature gauge. The sun was beating down, and the wind really picked up, so parents like Arlene Perkkio took precautions to keep the kids safe.

She brought a cooler filled with wash cloths soaking in ice water that players used to cool off. Referees also changed how the girls played the game. The game lengths were shorter and there were more frequent water breaks in an effort to prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration.

“We’re going to shorten the games, 20 minutes total, 10 each half. Two minute water breaks half way in between each half,” said Referee Dan Stupca.

Aaron Burnett, a doctor at Regions Hospital, said people are still adjusting to the extreme heat. It’s rather early in the year for it to be this hot, and it’s hard to get used to.

“I think today is really the start of the summer heat season,” he said from the hospital’s emergency room.

He’s treating more younger people and older ones who are feeling sick from the temperature. He said if you’re experiencing nausea or get light-headed, you’d better see a doctor.

“Nausea. If you’re feeling thirsty, feeling confused, that can be a concerning sign,” he said. “If your body tells you you’re getting sick in temperatures like this, you probably are.”

Dr. Burnett said it’s important to stay hydrated, even if you aren’t thirsty.

Taking frequent breaks, including lots of water, were key on the playing field. Time in the shade helped when the sun was beating down.

Coaches will have double duty when and if the hot weather continues this summer. They closely watch players to make sure their soccer skills improve, and they have to make sure they stay hydrated and healthy on scorching hot days like Tuesday.

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