Warm weather makes playoff game more fan-friendly

By Doug Halberstadt

Sports Columnist

I had the opportunity to cover the class 7A high school playoff game between the Hononegah Indians and the Glenbard West Hilltoppers over the past weekend (Nov. 7). It was a surreal experience. Not because of the game itself, but because of the weather.

The game was played during the first week of November in northern Illinois. Normal temperatures for this time of year are not supposed to be in the high 60s to low 70s like they were during last Saturday’s game. I’ve been to second-round playoff games where it was cold and snowy, or rainy and cold, but never sunny and 70. Instead of fans in their snowmobile suits, hats, scarves and gloves, they were wearing shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops.

Usually, the concession stand has a swimming pool-size container of hot chocolate and coffee for sale at these playoff games in early November. I don’t think I saw one cup of either sold last weekend. Ice-cold sodas were as popular as they were back in July.

The weather didn’t seem to have any adverse effects on either team’s players. Both teams came out in short sleeve jerseys with bare arms. Even the referees were in short-sleeves. I actually saw coaches on both sides of the field wearing sunglasses. This playoff game looked like it was being played in sunny southern California or Florida instead of northern Illinois.

I’m guessing that a lot of people at this game may not have been in attendance if it weren’t for the ideal weather conditions. What a treat for the few people I saw lined up against the fence in their wheel chairs not to have to trudge through a snow-covered parking lot. There were many grandmas and grandpas who got to see their grandsons play in a second-round playoff game that may not have made it out to the game had the temperature been 40 or 50 degrees cooler. Thank you, Mother Nature.

All in all, it was a picture-perfect fall afternoon for a high school playoff game. Unfortunately for the local fans, Hononegah lost the game 27-14, but because of the exceptional climatic conditions, nearly everyone left the stadium with a warm feeling, and the sun shining on their faces.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the November 11-17, 2009 issue

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