Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Praise of Monsoon Play

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Praise of Monsoon Play

Article excerpt

Earlier this week, there was a basically meaningless NFL game in Kansas City between the Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks. That is, come Super Bowl time in January, it's unlikely that anyone will look back on this contest on the first weekend in October as turning- point stuff.

Yet, to many of us, it will be our favorite game of the year.

That's because it was played in a sensational, driving, torrential, monsoon rain. It was a delicious mess. Conditions were wonderfully impossible. Nobody could run, pass, catch, block, tackle, see, or stand up. It gets no better than this. That's because individuals and teams best define their excellence, or lack thereof, in all kinds of conditions. Why shouldn't world- class athletes be able to play nicely in 72-degree windless comfort inside a domed stadium? OK, big-deal stars, now, let's see you do it in a rain of biblical proportion and horizontal configuration in Kansas City. Any athlete always will remember fondly a game played in horrific weather. Poster child is the 1967 NFL championship game between the Packers and the Cowboys, played in minus 13 to minus 19 degree temperatures in Green Bay. Wind chill made it at least minus 40. Whistles used by officials froze so they had to shout. Packer fans repeatedly leaned over the rail and pulled the plug on the heated Cowboy benches. The Packers won 21-17 in a legendary game wrapped in fact and fiction. Said Packer coach Vince Lombardi afterward, "Cold? What cold? I didn't notice any cold." That's the spirit. Sadly, sports have been diminished because way too often they give in to weather and seem embarrassingly anxious to do so. Golf is perhaps the worst offender. It demands near perfect weather or else it retreats to the clubhouse in tears. At last summer's British Open, the wind happily howled. Grumped Tom Lehman, "I'm not sure this suits anybody's game." Ah, nuts. The point is not for the weather to suit the game but for the game to adjust to the weather. Just go play and zip your lip about it. Golfer Hal Sutton was furious at a 1986 tournament at Pebble Beach: "Playing conditions were horrible. It's just not fair." Huh? …

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