From the Sideline

Column: Snow plows schedules, winter sports

January 31, 2014 

Being a semi-native of the North Carolina mountains, I’ll be one of the first to say I love a good snow.

There’s a condition, however, to me loving such wintry conditions. I have to be in the mountains to truly enjoy it, these days anyway.

I lived in Raleigh for most of my childhood but was born on a train at Tweetsie Railroad (so says my mother) and nearly all my family resides around Boone or just across the Tennessee state line. Point being, I’ve experienced my fair share of wintry weather on family land over the years – on foot, in trucks and about every other off-road, recreational vehicle.

But back here, where I actually reside, I’ve grown a love-hate thing for such weather and I’m sure there are some students out there who can relate to my situation.

I love the idea of getting snowed in just like any student praying for a day off from the classroom. Yet, I cannot stand how it ripples into my work schedule – the high school sports schedule – just like students tend to despise the prospect of a make-up day.

It’s particularly painful to see snow impact the winter season, because the yearlong notion is that winter sports schedules are the most reliable from a coverage standpoint.

Rains often torture spring sports and rain and cold temperatures can make things miserable for football and soccer late in the fall season. That makes the winter, when all sports are played indoors, a season I typically look forward to. There’s no rescheduling games due to rain-outs botching coverage plans. Unfortunately, as I was rudely reminded last week, indoor sports are still vulnerable to a snow-out.

From the sports side of things, the snow stinks as bad as inclement weather in any other season. Schools have to look at their existing schedules and figure out when they can reschedule the missed game(s). For the players, it often means two straight days of traveling what can be lengthy distances. And it is likely to result in them playing three games in a single week.

I’m pretty sure two games per week in addition to practices became the standard work load for a reason. It isn’t fair to the players to add in an extra game, and it certainly isn’t fair to a team that has to play two games in two days. Prep players may be in great shape but even they can be drained by back-to-back days full of school and basketball, with a 50-50 chance for road trips to and from the games.

The effects are, at times, hard to see. The players are going to try and go 100 percent whether they actually feel it or not. But coaches don’t lie. They often point back to make-up games to explain why their players lagged in their next contest.

If a snow-out happens during the conference season like it did last week, it is really unfair to the entire conference. It creates a likelihood for a three-game week and a chance for one of those games to go differently than it would under a normal schedule. Even if the favored teams still win, some players might not fire on all cylinders.

There was a time when I loved snow in the Triangle, and maybe I still would if it came around midnight on a Friday and completely melted by that time the following Sunday.

I recall practically begging God to give me an opportunity to use a sled instead of a textbook as a child. But as an adult, a more realistic grasp of the effects of wintry weather overshadows the blinders of instant gratification I was once more than glad to put on. That ship has sailed.

I can’t deny it was fun watching a good group kids make the most of a snow-covered hill in my neighborhood Wednesday morning. I was there to take photos, but I was absolutely tempted to make a few runs down the slope.

Moody: 919-829-4806 or amoody@newsobserver.com

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