Its Snow Joke
Recreation Ground, home of Bath Rugby Club, earlier this week
Well, it has been warmer.
Sport, as some may know, is really important to me. I could go on and on about what sports I loved. But this weekend, sport, at least on the British Isles, has been badly affected by the weather.
Snow and ice have put a halt to simply too many games for my liking. As Sky Sports News puts it, ‘The Big Freeze’ is shooting at sports fixtures and wounding them for a short while. Football, rugby and racing appear to have been the most fatally hurt.
The snow and ice has affected football big time. Right from the Premier League down to the lowest depths of non-league football, games have been called off. Reasons are slightly different, the lower league teams (mainly League 1 down), don’t have any sort of undersoil heating, meaning clearing the pitch is much more of a significantly harder work. The Premier League and the Championship, with the undersoil heating (and some even with oversoil heating) have had their problems come from outside of the stadiums. The dangerous conditions mean it is unsafe for fans to travel to the stadiums. For the benefit, here are all of the games that are still ON in the English football pyramid (kick off Saturday 3pm unless stated):
- Arsenal v Everton
- Wigan v Aston Villa
- Birmingham v Manchester United (Saturday, 5:30pm)
- West Ham v Wolves (Sunday, 1:30pm)
- Manchester City v Blackburn Rovers (Monday, 8pm)
- Cardiff v Blackpool
- Coventry v Barnsley
- Derby v Scunthorpe
- Leicester v Ipswich (Sunday, 3pm)
- Leeds United v Wycombe
- Norwich City v Exeter
And that is it. West Brom did manage to play Nottingham Forest on the Friday night. Meaning that the total of games going on in England from the 8th-11th January is: 13. And that number could go down a bit still. Wigan v Aston Villa has a early morning pitch inspection. The Sunday and Monday games have time to still be affected by the weather. In Scotland, it isn’t much better:
- Aberdeen v Hearts
- Dunfermline v Stenhousemuir
- Hibernian v Irvine Meadow
- Partick Thistle v Dundee United
- St. Mirren v Alloa
- Hamilton v Rangers (Sunday, 12:15pm)
I may just cry. My favourite team, Tottenham, aren’t even playing. Though this could also be good news since Aaron Lennon is currently not fit to play, so it is good to have time to rest him before the big game.
‘The Big Freeze’ is of course hitting rugby union hard as well. Frankly, the situation is so bad, that only one Guiness Premiership game is taking place: Leicester v Wasps. Using an ingenious solution of air blankets, they intend on keeping it on for up to 15 minutes before kickoff. I like the idea, at least one game will go ahead.
I’m not a fan of racing that much, but that has pretty much been swept away from land, with a lot of the races simply called off.
And of course, you know the snow and ice is bad, when an indoor ice hockey game between the Sheffield Steelers and the Cardiff Devils is called off.
In my slightly biased opinion, too much sport has been postponed. There are only 19 football games going on in Britain (Wales and Northern Ireland snowed out), a handful of rugby union games, with local ice hockey in the form of Newcastle Vipers managing to hand out a performance (despite the likelihood of a defeat).
What can be done to keep games on? Without much doubt, the weather may remain like this for a few more days to come, that in my eyes also means a few more games going out by the wayside. So, for possibly the first time in my life I will say this, something can be learnt from the national sport of the USA, American Football.
More specifically, NFL franchise Green Bay Packers. The Packers, from Green Bay in Wisconsin, have an average January temperature of –13.8°C, with a record low of -31°C. Yet, every January when they make it to the NFL Playoffs (which seems to be every few years). In the snow, the battle it out in freezing conditions, in front of a packed crows at Lambeau Field.
So how do they do it? In fact, it isn’t that much different to say the groundsmen at the likes of Old Trafford and Anfield do in similar situations. The pitch has undersoil heating, covers and some decent drainage. And then I came across this:
From this, there is one way to bring back the football matches we have been missing. Manual labour. I know teams are doing it, but are the bringing in enough people to help volunteer. I read online that the Packers paid $8 an hour to do the shovelling. We should be snapping up that offer of money for a bit of work to help see your team play.
It might be too late for this weekends, rather thin amount of games to be saved by my inspired manual labour. But instead of whining about the weather, like I have been doing, go down to your nearest team and help out. And then, watch that team in its football/rugby/ice hockey glory and look at a good job well done you did. Along with quite a few other folk as well.
For this weekend, I notice the Green Bay Packers are up against the Arizona Cardinals in some Wild Card match. I’m not sure when, but ‘The Big Freeze’ in the UK is making me interested.
Edit: Since I published this post, Aston Villa v Wigan and West Ham v Wolves have been called off. Aw.