Some years ago, when there was a Big 8 conference in collegiate athletics, the University of Colorado was changing their offense from an option team to a three WR team. Most people mocked the move with the ‘you can’t run a pass based offense in this conference. At least one game a year you’ll get wind, rain, sleet or snow and then what?’
Well Colorado did change their offense. Some time after that Bob Stoops became the head coach at the University of Oklahoma and won a National Title with the ‘Air Raid’ offense. By that time Oklahoma and Colorado where in the Big 12 conference and proved the weather nay sayers wrong week in and week out. Other schools followed suit including Kansas and Missouri.
Sports has shown an amazing ability to overcome the elements and provide amazing moments. From football to the NHL’s Winter Classic. Now a another weather challenge looms on the immediate horizon, global warming.
Global warming has been effecting athletes for years. There is no better example than the fall football camps. Oppressive heat forcing teams to alter practice hours and closely monitor their players health. Now sports must adapt to storms such as Sandy that battered the eastern seaboard.
Think about this, if the San Francisco Giants didn’t sweep the Detroit Tigers in four games in the World Series when would they have been able to play game five? The outer edges of Sandy were already being felt in Detroit bringing high winds, rain and a big drop in temperature. What if the New York Yankees or the New York Mets had made it to the World Series. Would they have been able to play at all?
MLS had to swap locations of a playoff game from New York to DC because of Sandy. They then ran into a snow storm delaying the second leg of the playoff series forcing the match to be played a day later. All this, one could argue, factored into DC not being at full strength in the next round which resulted in them being bounced out of the playoffs by a fresher Houston side.
Some professional leagues like the NFL, MLB and MLS have all talked about or already extended either their season or playoff structure in the name of revenue. Now these sports are running into situations, in particular MLB and MLS, where their playoff games could be put in jeopardy because of global warming. Placing both leagues in the unenviable position of possibly sacrificing profits just so they can get the games played.
The NFL is looking to expand it’s footprint. One way of doing that is going to an eighteen game schedule and placing a franchise in the United Kingdom. This years London game between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams was played without incident however the trip home became complicated due to Sandy. New England moved up their charter flight to get home before the storm hit but did have a contingency plan which meant staying in London for a few more days until it was safe for them to return to Boston. Luckily, they had an off week the next week.
As we can see, sports are not exempt from the effects of global warming. Dealing with it is going to play a major role in how and when games are played. Leagues, coaches, layers and fans better get use to it because it’s not around the corner but a fact of life right now.
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