By: Shawn O’Brate
Every year around this time there’s bound to be a conversation with somebody you know, whether they be friends, family, co-workers, colleagues or complete strangers. The conversation typically begins with one person saying something along the lines of “It’s too cold” or “I don’t like the snow.”
While nobody truly loves cold weather, scraping ice off their cars 15 minutes before needing to leave, or getting snow in their shoes, there is one benefit to the winter season: snow games.
Growing up in a state that had four distinct seasons it’s hard to become acclimated to a longer winter and longer summer with so little spring and fall mixed into the weather gauge, but it’s easy to get through these rough, snowy months with the times spent in stadiums and arenas with snow on the field.
Snow is a factor, just like wind and crowd noise, that can severely damage an opposing team’s game plan as well as their confidence, something that should not go unnoticed. When there is snow on the ground the game is simply better, whether it be football, soccer or any other team sport on the turf.
Lately it’s become the norm in the NFL, and other sports across the world, to put the games inside a dome that can be heated to the perfect temperature and humidity. Those fields and those fans might be more comfortable in their own way … but so is the opposing team.
Take last week’s Buffalo Bills vs Cleveland when they were forced to move the game to Ford Field in Detroit just two days before the kickoff was scheduled to take place. Now obviously the snowfall in Buffalo broke state records and topped over 81 inches in some places, but the statement still stands that once those two teams took the field in Detroit the playing field had been leveled.
This could have been one of the reasons why Buffalo’s stout offense struggled to really put away the Browns, a team who has dealt with snowy conditions in the past as well, when Josh Allen and his team are far-and-away the better team.
Some of the best, most memorable games in NFL history have been played in severe snowstorms. 2013’s Lions vs Eagles game, a game in which LeSean McCoy broke the Eagles’ single-game rushing record (217 yards), is a great example. So is the Patriots vs Raiders game in the 2001 Divisional Round when the Tuck Rule was instilled. And who could forget the 1967 NFL Championship Game, rightfully called the “Ice Bowl”, which saw Vince Lombardi’s Packers and Tom Landry’s Cowboys slip and slide up and down the field for the title.
While I love my new home in Wyoming, and I love the ability to do more outside than I ever could in Kansas, there is one thing that I miss more than the food, or the theme parks, or the night life … attending a snowy game and watching NFL head coaches throw the whole playbook out because of some little white flakes falling from the sky.
Even when the team I was rooting for was in a lull, or even in one of the worst losing streaks in franchise history, nothing compared to the games my grandfather brought me to where I almost felt like Ralphie’s brother in “A Christmas Story”, unable to put my arms down and loving every minute of it.
Around here there are some options to experience the beautiful-yet-harrowing effect that snow has on a team and an audience. There are youth hockey games, late season Wyoming Cowboys games, and some local high school sports but nothing compares to the excitement that comes when you’re bundled up in five layers of jackets, cheering on your favorite team as they defend their snowy palace while your hot chocolate or alcoholic beverage sits beside you waiting to be sipped in between screams and shouts.
So as the snow falls around you this week, and the upcoming winter, remember that someone somewhere is out there looking for places to cheer while the white matriculates down from the clouds.