The winter presents significant challenges to the professional sports calendar. While rain may cause baseball games to be postponed, the worst weather months in the United States are typically January through March. This is the season for indoor sports such as hockey and basketball, so weather conditions have minimal impact on game schedules. The NFL playoffs may face rough conditions in outdoor football stadiums, but participants and fans are usually prepared for the three-hour battle.
The first weeks of 2024 brought weather challenges that forced difficult decisions in the name of public safety. Due to a whiteout over the weekend, the delivery of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Buffalo Bills game was delayed by a day. Snow and wind speeds of over 60 miles per hour made Western New York a winter hazard. The game was postponed to keep people off the roads during a travel ban, and while it took place on Monday, the storm returned on Wednesday.
Once again, treacherous driving conditions forced the postponement of an indoor sports event. Due to the harsh winter weather, the Chicago Blackhawks and Buffalo Sabres were unable to bear the ice indoors.
On the other side of the country, winter did not cause a game postponement, but one of the main players could not make it to work. Deandre Ayton’s home in the Portland area was surrounded by so much ice that he couldn’t leave. His neighbors tried to help, and the Portland Trail Blazers also offered assistance. However, according to Blazers‘ beat reporter Casey Holdahl, after hours of effort, there was no way to safely get Ayton out of his house and into the arena.
What a day for Old Man Winter. He returned to West NY after leaving these folks in peace for a few days, and still found time to head over to Northwest Oregon and catch an NBA center on his way to his sixth consecutive season averaging a double-double. Laugh at ice if you want, but I remember the Snowpocalypse 2014 in Atlanta. Anyone who has never tried to start a car only to be surprised when it doesn’t because water under the tires has frozen to the height of a small flood may underestimate the power of the old man.
It makes us aware that it can force the postponement of one of the biggest NFL events as well as indoor games that are not typically affected by winter weather. Professional sporting events of all kinds are postponed because a snowstorm has left drivers with barely any visibility beyond the front wheels of their cars.
A similar event caused disruptions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area last year. The Detroit Pistons were unable to fly out of the region due to an ice storm. After losing to the Dallas Mavericks on a Monday, they could not return to the Motor City for a Wednesday game.
Weather is generally considered a variable that mankind must learn to deal with despite its extremes. Heat, deep cold, precipitation—people are expected to endure, especially when it comes to the most macho events of all time—professional sports. Winter 2024 is proving to be much tougher than us, as within a few weeks, the dangers are forcing sports to bend in the city.