Is it just me or does anyone else find the increasing number of lightning delays in football games a bit annoying? I'm not just talking about college or professional games but on the high school level as well. Over the past few years it seems in the early part of the season there are more and more games that are being delayed for hours at a time, which causes a definite hardship on players, coaches and fans as well as broadcasters. For instance, the Tennessee Titans game at Miami on Sunday afternoon was the longest game in NFL history. It took more than seven hours to finish a 27-20 Dolphins victory, due to not one but two different two-hour weather delays.
In addition to the Titans marathon with the Dolphins, the Tennessee Volunteers have played twice so far and they've suffered through weather delays in both games, and both were lengthy delays.
And in high school football, there have been lightning delays in two of the first three weeks of the season. Many years ago as a player and then later as a young broadcaster, I can never remember games being held up for lightning. We played in rain, snow and thunderstorms. In football, there were never delays of any kind for weather. Years ago it would be a big insult if teams would delay or even postpone games due to weather.
The most frustrating part of these weather delays is if a bolt of lightning is spotted within eight miles of the game site, there is a 30-minute waiting period before play can resume. If 25 minutes go by and another lightning bolt is spotted, then it's another 30 minutes before play can resume.
The most serious weather situation I have ever been in at a high school football game was in 2009 when I was doing Ooltewah football games on radio. There were not only thunderstorm warnings in the area but even a tornado watch as well. Just before game time, a really severe storm hit the Ooltewah area and it included a tornado up the road in Cleveland. The game was postponed until the next night. The weather was so bad, it was really scary in that press box.
I'm not the only person who has commented on the situation and it's very easy to blame it on global warming. There may be something to it however. Years ago, it was not uncommon to have sleet and snow at games late in the season. Now it rarely ever happens at all unless your team is still playing in late November or early December in the playoffs. Snow and ice are much more common in college and pro games especially in northern and western states.
I have always believed that global warming was real. I would hope our lawmakers would take it seriously because down the road we may have more serious problems than a lightning delay at a football game to worry about.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org