In Defense of the NFL…

196px-National_Football_League_2008_svg I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts, or in this case, some ‘Monday Morning Quarterbacking’ of the NFL’s handling of the storms that hit Chicago.  I have seen a lot of people upset that they even started the game in Chicago.  Many said they should have waited it out and postpone the game.  There are a number of reasons why I believe the viral anger flowing out there is completely overblown.

Let’s begin with the weather itself.  Although terrible, weather is unpredictable.  While many knew these storms were coming, anticipating exactly what they’re going to do at any given point and at what time remains out of our understanding.  So, as with many things, I completely understand a policy of not changing any schedules or course of action until you know what you’re facing in the immediate future.  The one condition on this policy is that you must allow enough time for all fans in the stadium to seek shelter.

Let’s also look at the what ifs.  What if the NFL had taken many people’s advice and delayed the start of the game.  By doing so, they would delay the arrival of fans, they would have delayed the opening of the gates and also delayed all the action before the game.  Again, with the uncertainty of storms, is this really a better option?  Does anyone think that all the fans who planned on attending today’s game would stay away until right before kickoff?  No, rather than being in the stadium and forced into shelter, they would have been on the road or in area parking lots with very limited protection from the elements.

Finally, I want to stress this point more than anything.  Tornadoes and severe weather are unpredictable.  And although large areas were placed under tornado or severe thunderstorms, the actual area where severe conditions occurred is a fraction of the area that was warned.  Warnings are issued as a precaution.  Although their accuracy has improved greatly in recent years, they are not a guarantee that every place within them will see severe weather.

With all of that in mind, I hope that people will realize that this was a difficult situation and that the operators at Soldier Field, the referees on the field and the NFL were all in a very unique situation and had to roll with the punches.  I personally think they did a very good job.  As with every move the NFL makes, this one will come under scrutiny and could bring some changes to the league’s policy.  It also will be analyzed by other sports arenas who could face a similar situation in the future.

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