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How weather issues have been handled in sports
Question of the Day
INCIDENTS: A 1996 preseason game in Chicago between Kansas City and the Bears was called late in the third quarter because of lightning. More recently, the 2010 season opener between Denver and Jacksonville was suspended 33 minutes because of lightning. Officials sent players, coaches and staff members off the field at the start of the fourth quarter, and public address announcers asked fans to seek shelter during the delay. The Jaguars and other teams also have had lightning delays in preseason games.
POLICY: The commissioner or his representative has authority to suspend, postpone and cancel games if the safety of participants or spectators is at risk. Referees can temporarily suspend games. League policy says the commissioner’s representative should be mindful of the safety of spectators, players, game officials, photographers and cheerleaders. Decisions to cancel, postpone or terminate a game are to be announced over the public address system, the referee’s wireless microphone or through radio, TV and other news media.
INCIDENTS: Tulsa’s home-opening loss to No. 7 Oklahoma State last year was delayed more than three hours by weather and didn’t end until 3:35 a.m. local time on Sunday. A year earlier, the Arkansas-Mississippi game was delayed twice in the second half by 89 minutes combined because of lightning, causing most of the 73,619 in attendance to leave before it ended.
POLICY: Schools are required to have an inclement weather policy that includes where fans should go and how that is communicated. Basic guidelines from lightning safety experts strongly recommend that by the time a monitor observes 30 seconds between a lightning flash and its associated thunder, all individuals should have left the athletics site and reached a safer structure or location. University of Utah officials say almost every college has a system, such as the SkyScan Lightning/Storm Detector, in place to assist game managers in decisions when it’s safe to resume play.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:
INCIDENTS: A bolt of lightning close to Rangers Ballpark followed by an immediate loud clap of thunder led to a 46-minute delay in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game between Texas and the Minnesota Twins. No rain was falling when a sudden jarring bolt of lightning struck north of the stadium. Catcher Mike Napoli took off running toward the dugout, as did Twins batter Ryan Doumit. Josh Willingham, the runner at first, dropped to the ground and umpire crew chief Jeff Kellogg immediately stopped the game.
POLICY: The umpire has power to stop any game because of dangerous or inclement weather. League officials say they rely on teams to have policies in place to communicate best with their fans depending on particular weather danger.
By Matt Kibbe
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