Illinois Football Camps Face Air Quality Concerns: IHSA Monitoring Situation


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CHICAGO, IL – As football training camps gear up across the country, a new concern looms over young athletes: air quality. The spotlight now falls on the consistent smoke drifting into several U.S. states from Canadian wildfires.

In Illinois, where heat guidelines have long been in place to safeguard athletes’ well-being, the recent surge in wildfires has raised alarming questions about the health risks during training sessions and outdoor activities.

To address this pressing issue, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) has taken a proactive stance. “We are monitoring the air quality and have gained resources from other states who have dealt with this issue previously,” stated Matt Troha, Assistant Executive Director of the IHSA in an email on Wednesday. Troha mentioned that any policy recommendations concerning air quality limits would undergo review and approval by the IHSA Board of Directors, who are scheduled to convene in August. Additional input would likely be sought from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

“If we anticipate there could be issues continuing into early August, we will offer guidance to our schools. Any decisions related to participation remain up to the local school,” added Troha.

While some area high schools may consider adopting the Air Quality Flag Program, a system proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there remains a risk of coaches overlooking the program’s systematic color scheme approach opting for additional guidelines.

The impact of wildfires on air quality cannot be undermined. Of particular concern are young athletes who may be more vulnerable to the detrimental consequences of poor air quality. High schools now find themselves in the crosshairs of incorporating air quality guidelines alongside existing heat protocols. 

While air quality has returned to normal in Chicago for the time being, the Illinois High School Association remains vigilant in its commitment to monitor and address air quality concerns. They are preparing for darker days ahead that could disrupt more than just a game. The Canadian Government is already bracing for additional wildfires for the remainder of the year.

Shane Saathoff
Shane Saathoff
An active writer for two decades, Shane's focuses on local news and events throughout the area, Shane is an active historian, science nerd, and tech geek. Shane is a native of Bourbonnais, IL, and alumni of Olivet Nazarene University.


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