Playing sports in extreme weather

Those climate change deniers who gleefully seize on any cold spell in the US as evidence that global warming is a hoax conveniently ignore the fact that there is a part of the globe called the ‘southern hemisphere’ and winter here means summer there. It turns out that Australia is currently going through a blistering heat wave with elevated risks for forest fires and heat strokes.

The temperatures in the Melbourne region have consistently been well over 40oC (104oF). The Australian Open tennis tournament is currently taking place and there have been instances of players hallucinating and collapsing on the court. Players have grown increasingly angry over what they felt was the indifference of the tournament directors to the physical well-being of the players, and I don’t blame them.

The heat was so bad that today they finally announced that the tournament has been halted until the early evening hours and the retractable roofs had been closed.

In the US, football games are often played in absurdly cold conditions, such as the playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers on January 5 2014 where the temperature was expected to be -5oF (-21oC). With the wind blowing, it was expected to feel like -50oF (-45oC). Players and spectators run the serious risk of frostbite, though some players are taking a refreshing break from foolhardy macho posturing.

Some players go sleeveless and refuse to change their playing attire no matter the conditions — Vince Lombardi famously didn’t let his players wear gloves in the Ice Bowl — but the Packers of today are open to changes.

“I don’t really subscribe to ‘the less clothes I have on, the tougher I am,'” tight end Ryan Taylor said. “The guys who think they’re the toughest guys in the world go out wearing no sleeves. It doesn’t make any sense. Being cold doesn’t make you tough. It makes you stupid.”

Sport is big business but by no means an essential activity and I see no reason to subject players to the risks of playing in such extreme conditions.


  1. colnago80 says

    They’re playing the Super Bowl this year at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. This is a break from playing in places like Southern California, Arizona, South Texas, Florida, or in a domed stadium. It would serve the muck da mucks who run the NFL right if there were a snow storm on Super Bowl Sunday.

  2. richardrobinson says

    While the polar vortex was chilling the north east, the north west was experiencing unusually mild weather. Yesterday , in Edmonton, Alberta, it was 8C. That’s above freezing. But for the gusting winds, I might have worn a t-shirt. When I was a teenager, January and February were reliably f-f-f-f-f-fucking cold. You hoped a cold snap would break to a more bearable -15C.

    This didn’t stop our right-wing pundits from saying idiotic things:

  3. doublereed says

    “The guys who think they’re the toughest guys in the world go out wearing no sleeves. It doesn’t make any sense. Being cold doesn’t make you tough. It makes you stupid.”

    You can say this about anything that is considered “manly.”

  4. richardrobinson says

    @doublereed, I’ll never understand how refusing to ask for directions or read instructions is considered more manly than getting there on time or getting the job done right.

  5. kyoseki says

    Never mind the Southern Hemisphere, southern California is in the middle of a heatwave and a large part of greater Los Angeles is on fire, again, in the middle of “winter”.

  6. doublereed says

    @5 richardrobinson

    That’s easy enough to answer. People think “being a man” implies carrying yourself a certain way or asserting physical prowess. But that’s not what it means. “Being a man” refers to pretending to know what you are doing.

  7. doublereed says

    By that, I mean the common phrase of “Be A Man!” Not just actually being an adult male.

  8. Trebuchet says

    Were I a praying man, I’d be praying for rain and high winds in Seattle come Sunday. Just like last week. Of course, we’re playing San Francisco so won’t have as much of an advantage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *