School team sports monitoring smokey air conditions during practices

BISMARCK, N.D. - If you're reluctant to take a deep breath outside, you're not alone with all that smoke coming down from Canada. Schools are looking at it, too, now that high school sports teams are practicing outside.

The trainers at Bismarck Public Schools are giving coaches guidelines on how to deal with smoky conditions. That includes shortening practices, lessening the intensity of practices, and making sure there are plenty of water breaks.

The Bismarck High School football team is just five days away from its first game. They've been practicing since August 8, and the bad air quality coupled with the heat has hampered a couple workouts.

“It hasn't been a huge issue, but there's been some days that we've talked about shortening practice,” head coach Mark Gibson said.

Coaches are told to monitor air quality throughout the day. They've also been given instructions to cut down the length of practice, cut down intensity and add in more breaks if air quality is bad.

“We haven't seen anybody act up any different than normal, you know we have the asthma kids that we've kept a closer eye on,” Gibson said.

BPS athletic trainer Blaine Steiner says they've had to deal with smoky conditions in the past, but it seems to be a more frequent issue this year. And if it continues, they'll be monitoring for changes to game schedules, if needed.

“That's something that we'll have to address day by day and certainly be prepared to make necessary changes if the air quality is that bad,” Steiner said.

Steiner says athletic trainers aren't able to get to every practice, but the trainers are available at each high school for students.