New rule: Student marching band members must get a sports physical

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting August 1st, Texas students are expected to be medically cleared before they can perform with the marching band.

The University Interscholastic League’s new rule applies to marching band students entering their first and third years of high school as well as any seventh or eighth-grade middle school student participating in the marching band.

Austin cardiologist Dr. Michael Liu of Texas Children’s Specialty Center sees students referred to him if their sports physical is abnormal and agrees with the new rule considering the long hours band members practice in the Texas heat.

“Our biggest concern is dehydration in the heat, if you get too far behind in your fluids, you can have dizziness, fainting, cramping and in extreme cases you can have heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” says Dr. Liu.

He recommends high schoolers drink at least 80 ounces of water a day, potentially more if they are active.

KXAN asked how many band members have turned in physicals to begin practice at the end of July, The Austin Independent School District says that data is not available but says it’s aware like athletics, it impacts all marching band students across the state.

Dr. Liu says if students do not get the required physical then they risk the possibility of doctors not catching an underlying problem, “the most common risk is potentially missing something subtle like elevated blood pressure that can contribute to poor health outcomes as adults. The most dangerous risk or highest stake risk is potentially missing a child that has a higher risk for adverse events when they are in the field or at band practice. Those children deserve not only a sports physical but potentially a more in-depth evaluation by various specialists,” explains Dr. Liu. 

Although the new rule does not take effect until August 1, the UIL encourages all band members to get a sports physical prior to starting band practice at the end of July.

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