How Smoke Affects Athletes

Unusually vibrant sunrises and sunsets were coupled with a hazy smog and poor air quality throughout the city of Cody during the first two weeks of Sept.

According to the Cody Enterprise, as of Sept. 11, 2019, the fire that had originated in Fishhalk trailhead continued to expand and occupied 11,171 acres of land near Cody. The typically crisp mountain air was less than fresh due to the cloud of smoke that had settled over the city. On Sept. 4, 2019, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality reported how smoke pollution had affected the air quality in Cody. This information rang true to junior high and high school students participating in athletics. 

“It made it harder to breathe and play as well as normal,” senior Maddy Icenogle said of the smoke. Icenogle competes on the Cody High School tennis team, and their practices are held primarily at the Cody Middle School. 

The matter of air quality became such an issue that middle school cross country coaches Dick Smith and Amy Couture made an executive decision to cancel practice on the afternoon of Sept. 4. Couture explained that on that day, her and Smith continually checked the Air Quality Index. She revealed that it started out at about 35 in the morning, which is in the “green” level, indicating that the air was clean enough for strenuous exercise, and reached 143 at around noon. Couture stated that at that level, it is unsafe for children to exercise due to the risks of health effects such as chest pain, wheezing, and increased symptoms for runners who have asthma. 

“We cancelled practice and then we heard from many of the parents that they were relieved that we made that decision,” Couture said. 

On the other hand, athletics teams at the high school level continued to practice despite the smoke. Senior Hayden Bronnenberg said that many players on the Bronc football team reported their throats being sore and closing up when they woke up during the week of Sept. 4. 

“For me it didn’t do too much other than make me thirsty, and my throat was a little sore,” Bronnenberg says. “But I noticed it really affected the kids with asthma. They all had to take multiple shots from their inhalers before practice.”-Drew Trotter

The football team wasn’t the only team who still held outdoor practice for the high school. The cross country and tennis teams also continued to practice in spite of the smoke.