Fielder’s Choice

Football in rain and cold

It seems like football is drifting away from the elements.

There’s been a lot of conversation in recent weeks about high school games getting changed from Friday nights to Thursday nights in anticipation of inclimate weather.

Some like it. Some don’t.

First of all, thunderstorms with lightning and the threat of tornados, that’s a different story.

I was at a high school game last season that was delayed about three hours due to lightning. It was a wise move, a very dangerous situation. And after waiting and waiting and waiting, I was wishing it had been moved to another night. It finished after midnight.

But football in the rain, I like it. I’m old school. I like it outside, in the cooler weather, in the mud, in the rain – or even in the snow. August is not football weather.

Some of my best memories, of 35-plus years of covering high school football are from games where it was raining, even coming a flood.

As a newspaper man, I’m not fond of going to the press box. I like to stay on the sideline, no matter the weather. That’s where the action is – where I get the best information for my stories.

I’ve been in a downpour, the mud, 85 degrees, 25 degrees and everywhere in between. Of course, I prefer a good, clear night, about 60 degrees.

Friday, Oct. 25, I went to Clarksdale with the Marshall Academy football team. It had rained all day and the forecast was rain, rain and more rain. The forecast was correct.

The rain let up a little right after halftime but that didn’t last long.

I was prepared, with all my rain gear. I never left the sideline.

The only bad part – I had to skip the photos. I wasn’t going to risk water damage to an expensive camera.

I normally take notes with a pen and pad. This time I used my phone and took fewer notes.

Coach Barrett Donahoe asked me prior to leaving the locker room that night, “What do you think?”

I replied, “Making memories.”

I understand coaches preferring to play in good conditions. Typically, rain and mud add up to more turnovers and perhaps a higher risk of injury.

I also read about one coach a couple of weeks ago, who played at home that same Friday night of all the rain, say he wasn’t changing the game. And he admitted it was because the team he was playing is a passing team, and all that wet stuff would make it more difficult for the opponent.

I recall, at a young age, learning about “The Frozen Tundra.” And I watched the Green Bay Packers on TV, playing at Lambeau Field in snow and ice, with breath noticeable coming from inside the players’ helmets.

The same holds true for Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.

The coldest game I ever attended in person was the 1982 Liberty Bowl, coach Bear Bryant’s last game at Alabama. As the old saying goes, I thought I was going to “freeze to death.” But I would not take anything for being there and creating those memories.

It’s football, and I enjoy it, Thursday or Friday, rain or shine. And it’s meant to be played outside.

 

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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