STEPPING UP: My Take: Playing through the elements

Published 2:18 pm Friday, May 9, 2014




For high school athletics, safety is the No. 1 priority. A win isn’t worth a catastrophe and for the most part, schools in Beaufort County have an excellent track record of caring for their athletes.

However, in terms of weather, it’s time eastern North Carolina sporting culture adjusts to the times. Whether it’s a direct cause of climate change or not – I’m no atmospheric scientist – the weather in this part of the country is rapidly changing.

Lets face it, snow – precipitation that was once infrequent and exciting – is now more of an inconvenience than ever. Rain seems to be falling in mass quantities, more than usual at least, and tornados – yes, those previously mythological weather anomalies – are becoming routine in our forecasts.

Dozens of games were rescheduled and cancelled this spring across all sports – track, softball, baseball, golf and tennis. An absurd amount. Reasons were rain, snow, sleet, tornados, thunderstorms or simply the impending threat of severe weather.

We live in one of the most unpredictable parts of the country and world. It seems like there’s been more erroneous forecasts here than anywhere else.

Cancelling or rescheduling a game due to the impending threat of rain, sleet or snow is a concept that needs to be pocketed and saved for, well, a rainy day. Who knows how many games could have been played at their regularly scheduled times if day-of weather evaluation protocol occurred.

Before you go pointing fingers, it’s by no means a single person’s fault, but rather, it’s a procedure and mindset ubiquitous among most high school programs in this part of the state.

On top of cancelling sporting events a day ahead of time, the guidelines, whether official or not, for which weather conditions can be played through also needs to be altered.

Sure, if it’s raining, it’s kind of hard to play on a slick concrete tennis court, as players could easily slip, thus affecting the quality of the contest. Track is a similar animal, but on March 20, head coach Jon Blank, when all other sports were called off, powered through the rain and got the meet in. Everything went smoothly with no problems. Here, the phrase, “A little rain never hurt anyone,” is unquestionably pertinent.

Baseball and softball are fully capable of being played in light rain or snow. Granted it was a different part of the country, but growing up in New Jersey, it wasn’t even a question of whether or not teams would take the field in a light rain and or even a heavy snow.

Soccer is a sport that can be played in scorching sun, freezing rain and a couple inches of snow. Yet, last Thursday’s long awaited rematch between the Pam Pack and the Rampants of J.H. Rose was cancelled due to thunderstorms in the forecast. There ended up being a few rumbles of thunder, no lightning and a light drizzle.

By no means should the teams take the field if lightning is illuminating the sky or there’s a tornado warning in the area, but if there’s the impending threat of a light snow two days from the scheduled game, school should not be cancelled and the Pack, Panthers, Seahawks, Raiders or Knights should suit up.