School delays, closings and sporting event cancellations are inevitable during the winter months, but what goes exactly goes into the decision on whether to play or not to play?
Oftentimes, school districts may get a day off because of inclement weather, but evening events go on as planned. A lot can happen to the conditions between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., which is one reason athletes may be stuck at home during school hours, but heading to compete later that day.
“It can change,” Colonel Crawford athletic director David Sheldon said. “You’ve got to make a call for buses by 8 a.m., and your games aren’t starting until 6 p.m, so you’ve got plenty of time to see if it clears up and you can still play.”
A number of factors go into the decision-making process, relying on both communication and cooperation by every school district involved with the scheduled athletic contest in question.
“It’s really a collaboration between both schools, athletic directors and superintendents,” Wynford athletic director Travis Moyer said. “Obviously if a school feels like they can’t travel here or vice versa, then the game is canceled. We try to wait as long as we can to make that decision, but usually at the end of the day it’s about the safety of everyone involved, and that determines whether we try to play or not.”
Saturday-scheduled events are handled the same way. Athletic directors begin calling each other by 8 a.m. to discuss the weather and road conditions, and whether or not a postponement should occur. Just like school cancellations, a morning or afternoon event may take place, while an evening one doesn’t, or the other way around.
“Obviously we need to make that decision with enough time to give everyone notice,” Moyer said.
The school administrators involved in the decision-making process take making the call serious. Most teams already have a jam-packed scheduled, especially with the increase to 22 games for basketball, and it can be difficult to find a makeup date. The same thing often happens during the spring sports season, resulting in some teams finishing the season a week or two after being eliminated from tournament play. Avoiding a strung out season or five games in one week is the ultimate goal, but it may become unavoidable given certain circumstances.
“It’s tough now when they added 22 games last year,” Sheldon said. “You don’t have a lot of leeway if you are missing games because of snow or bad weather, then you are playing an NBA schedule, so you try to get it in if you can, because if not games just start piling on.”