On September 8, 2013, the New York Yankees took to the field to try to get one game closer to a wild card spot. The team that stood in their way was the Boston Red Sox.
Boston had already won two of the three games in the series, with one game left to play. The Yankees desperately wanted to avoid the sweep and fall another game out of the close AL wild card race. They did in fact win the game, by a score of 4-3, with a little help from Brandon Workman’s wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Even though Mariano Rivera blew the save for the Bronx Bombers, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki ran the final ninety feet to home plate to get the W, and to more importantly, keep the brooms in the closet.
As an active spectator however, I couldn’t help but notice the weather at the game. Right before the game started, the heat really started to kick in, and it beat down on everyone at the stadium. Then all of a sudden, clouds started to show up and a cool breeze found its way into the stands. It made me wonder if and how the changes in weather affect sporting events. Obviously in this situation, the bright sun could affect the fielder’s vision, and make catching a fly ball extremely difficult. Or a slight change in the wind could move the ball mid flight as it makes its way to the batter’s box.
Let’s look at some other major sports and see how weather can possibly affect the outcome of the game. Take football for example, specifically the later part of the season. When football is played in the winter months, November and December, the possibilities of snow, freezing rain, and cold temperatures only increase. These changes can easily affect the players as well as the ball itself. Most quarterbacks like to throw the football, but when was the last time you threw a football in the middle of December during a snowstorm? It’s hard to do, and it’s only harder for the wide receiver who has to catch it. Catching a ‘frozen’ football is the equivalent of catching a rock coming at you faster than you can say “I’m open!” In an article on About.com about sports gambling, there are at least eight cold-weather teams that play, including New England, Chicago, Green Bay, and Denver among others. According to the site, “Cold weather teams are those which play in a city where the average temperature is 35 degrees or lower in December.” Cold weather also results in harder hits, slower runs, and the need for more oxygen throughout the game.
What would this article be if it didn’t include one of the most influential weather occurrences in history? Hurricane Sandy was detrimental to not just the sports world, but the whole country in general. When I say sports world, it doesn’t mean just the professional sports, high school sports are included as well. Hurricane Sandy affected the Northeast the worst, but destruction spanned up and down the entire east coast. High schools were forced to postpone games or reschedule for later dates. The NFL moved its trade deadline back a few days, and many NBA teams had to leave early in order to avoid the storm. The New York City marathon was canceled just days before the storm hit. Even though the Hurricane did much more damage to just the sports world, by destroying homes and families simultaneously, this article is written for the purposes of how weather can affect sporting events. I realize that sports were the last concern of the country during the time of the storm, but it’s still worth noting how it changed sports.
Needless to say, any type of weather can affect the performance of players, or the outcome of a sporting event. Whether it’s the sun in a receiver’s eyes, or wind that pushes the baseball down, or even the cold air that increases the chances of a concussion, we can’t control it. It’s always been a part of the game, but it’s up to the players and coaches to adjust to the weather accordingly.