Do some NFL teams have a ‘dome-field advantage’

October 28, 2009

By S.C. Zuba

Sports Columnist

After watching the first seven weeks of the 2009 NFL season, the idea of “dome-field advantage” dawned on me.

It’s a simple idea—teams that play inside a dome have an unfair advantage over teams that play outside.

While teams like the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants play in what can most readily be defined as a frozen tundra for the majority of the season, nine NFL teams play in cool, air-conditioned arenas.

The St. Louis Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys all find their home games played inside of a comfortable dome, where Mother Nature can never factor in a game.

Dec. 23, 2008, the Green Bay Packers traveled to Chicago to take on the Bears in what would be recorded as the coldest kickoff in Chicago Bears history. On that freezing Monday evening, the temperature was 2 degrees Fahrenheit, with a windchill of minus 13.

I can say with complete confidence that was the coldest experience of my life. It was difficult to show any emotion when Robbie Gould kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime, yet both teams overcame the frigid temperatures and played like professionals.

Compare that Bears/Packers game to the Minnesota Vikings game against the Baltimore Ravens Oct. 18, 2009, when Brett Favre orchestrated yet another miracle comeback victory.

The temperature in Minneapolis that day was around 41 degrees Fahrenheit, yet Favre and the Vikings were enjoying the benefits of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, where all weather conditions can be controlled.

As each of these nine teams plays eight of their home games free from the frigid temperatures, torrential downpours and tornado-like winds, an unfair advantage must be present.

Ask any field-goal kicker from the Buffalo Bills how much of a factor wind can be.

Inside of a dome, a quarterback never has to worry if he can feel his fingers before he makes a pass, and a running back never has to be slammed into the frozen ground. A defensive back never has to lose his receiver because his cleats won’t stick in the ground—it is the same field, day in and day out.

Some argue playing inside of a dome takes away from the character and history of the game. Others argue all games should be played inside of a dome so football can be as fast and as strong as possible.

Either way, the system needs to be uniform. Either all teams play inside of a dome, or no teams play inside of a dome. It’s the only way to make it fair.

Share your thoughts with S.C. Zuba via e-mail at samuelczuba@yahoo.com.

From the October 28 – November 3, 2009

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