To play or to stay?
Sometimes it’s obvious when basketball games and other high school sporting events should be called off due to winter weather, such as when freezing rain coats everything in sight. Sometimes it isn’t, and two of those times were Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Snow fell Sunday night and early Monday morning across much of Kentucky, and temperatures didn’t get above 20 degrees in our neck of the woods until today. On Monday night, only about five games statewide were played, with the rest of the scheduled games canceled or postponed. On Tuesday night, well over three-quarters of the schedule was played, with fewer than 20 games called off.
As I was layering up to go to my game Tuesday night, I wondered, “What’s the difference?” Most local schools were closed both days. On both Monday and Tuesday afternoon and evening, the main highways were in good condition and the back roads were bad. The same roads that were coated one day were coated the next. At nightfall, the temperature felt about the same on both days.
There are two ways of looking at this: (1) If conditions were too bad to play games on Monday, they were too bad on Tuesday; or (2) if it was safe to play on Tuesday, it would have been safe on Monday.
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People often ask me during bad winter weather why basketball games are played when school is closed and whether there is a KHSAA rule covering such situations, but there isn’t. The decisions are left to individual districts about whether to play or call off games.
A number of school districts have policies against playing when classes are canceled, but most of them seem to be districts that miss fewer days than most. Such poliicies are in place in Fayette and Jefferson county schools, and the latter system won’t allow its teams to practice or play if school is called off.
Locally, the only school I know of that has a no-school, no-play policy is Danville, whose schools are often open when many of the county schools in the surrounding area are closed. Because of this, Danville becomes something of a bellwether, because if the weather is bad enough to force Danville to cancel classes, it’s usually pretty bad.
County school systems are probably better off without such policies, because it would be difficult if not impossible to make up the games missed in order to play anything close to a full schedule. Buses that travel to basketball games only have to drive the roads that go from one school to the other, not the back roads that school-day buses cover, and those main roads are clear long before school officials are ready to re-open their schools in many counties.
So we’ll continue to play it by ear as one winter storm after another rolls through, even before winter actually gets here. Drive carefully.