It may be that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, but it sure flashed the same places countless times last Friday night across Ohio, especially locally.
The result was that many high school football games were halted, with a good portion of them not getting completed until Saturday,
The rule in the Ohio High School Athletic Association – actually, it’s pretty much the rule in the National High School Athletic Association for all areas in this country – is that if lightning is cited by officials during an outdoors competition, play is suspended for 30 minutes to allow the weather to clear. If no other lightning is cited within that 30 minutes, then play is resumed. However, if lightning is cited again at any time during that 30-minute period, then the event is halted and the clock is reset for another 30 minutes. This can, and often does, go on indefinitely until it is determined it is the better part of valor to suspend play for the rest of the day and come back the next day, or another day, and try it again.
Sometimes, though, that is not enough. The Manchester football team needed three days to defeat Mogadore in a home game about 15 years ago.
I have a friend who runs the scoreboard for the sports teams at a high school in another nearby state. That state got hit with thunderstorms recently and, even before a boys soccer game could get started, he was ordered by the athletic director to reset the countdown-to-starting time clock 11 different times as lightning danced its way through the warm, muggy, late-afternoon skies.
Then the skies changed dramatically, giving way to bright sunshine with just a few wispy clouds. It was then announced that the game had been postponed, and likely canceled because both teams are pretty busy the rest of the year and had no common open dates available that would work.
What?! An afternoon wasted, for this – no game!
The athletic administration made the right call. Those people knew exactly what they were doing.
Being advised by the weather bureau that strong storms were on the way – and rather soon – they heeded the warning, called it a day, packed up and went home. About 25 minutes later, it stormed and rain as if it were the end of the world. So starting the game would have been useless. It just would have been stopped anyway.
Don’t worry about any of that happening this weekend with any high school athletic events around these parts. The long-range forecast for Friday and Saturday calls for temperatures in the low to mid-80s with just a slight chance of rain. But of course, in Northeast Ohio, you never know about the weather. Let’s just hope the weathermen are right.
Weather delays are, of course, a pain in the neck for everybody involved – the athletes and their parents and/or guardians, coaches, fans, officials, school administration personnel and all the concession stand workers and the like. It’s not fun by any stretch of the imagination.
But it’s a necessity – a necessary evil, as it were. We all realize that now, and are thankful for it.
Back in the day, though, these events were never stopped, regardless of the weather conditions, lightning included. What were we thinking? Smarter heads prevailed and we realized the potential danger of exposing people to some of Mother Nature’s fury.
It’s that way with a lot of things nowadays involving children, such as making visitors – and sometimes the students and school personnel themselves – go through security or some kind of screening process before entering school buildings. We lock our doors, so why not lock our schools.
It’s bad enough when the home teams lose, but we never want to see a real tragedy.