A Closer Look – Week #9 by Mark Miller
Week nine brought another Friday night of great games and hard-fought, extra-effort play by our area teams and players. Hard to believe we are entering the final week of the regular season! Last Friday night brought some rain and wind and now we see the temps begin to fall. Football season in Ohio – we all experience many varieties of weather watching football games August thru November. And that is my topic for this week, weather, and how it affects the players and games.
My main focus is on the players. I feel for the band members and cheerleaders too since they typically are in uniforms of some sort and have to be able to perform. I know some might say, “Hey how about the fans? They have to sit out in the bad weather too.” My response is, suck it up, put on another layer and deal with it! The players are the ones that have to wear enough clothing so they don’t freeze but not too much so they can still move.
Of course, advancements in technology have allowed players to stay light and flexible but still stay warm. Heck, gloves used to be used only to keep your hands warm but now just about every player, even QBs, wear gloves to protect their hands as well as catch everything in sight! Ever see the Peyton’s Places episode where Peyton Manning put on a pair of receiver gloves then caught a football without closing his fingers? The ball just stuck to his hand. No wonder Odell Beckham can make one-handed catches. Ole’ Dante “Gluefingers” Lavelli didn’t have sticky gloves and still caught everything in sight!
In “the old days” dressing for cold weather meant putting on a sweatshirt and another pair of sweat socks. Now we have clothing for hot, cold, wet, humid, you name it weather. Plus, when not playing the players can sit on benches that keep them cool or warm and even have pegs to place your helmet on to keep them feeling comfortable. Man, in the 70’s we were thrilled to have a salamander heater blowing out warm air behind the bench. At least it kept the kicker’s feet from freezing. Then came ball warmers. Yes, cabinets to put the game balls in to keep them from feeling like you were throwing or kicking a brick when temps dropped below freezing! And no more “frozen tundra”, as John Facenda used to say, in Green Bay or anywhere else. Fields are now heated with hot water pipes running below the surface or are indoors all together with a steady 72 degrees every game. Now, all these luxuries are not used by most high schools but it is amazing how many parents still provide their kids with all the most modern gear.
To say the players today aren’t as tough as the old days may not be true but certainly the conditions they have to play in are not as tough today. But, improvements have made the game safer, more consistent and more fun to watch. The game certainly has changed but football still is the greatest team game ever designed. Just look at the numbers of fans around the world. I hope you will continue to get out to the games no matter what bad weather is ahead this season. Just throw on another layer and go cheer for the kids dressed in short sleeves, skirts, no hats, or gloves with no fingers in them. They sure seem to have fun!