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Football game should not have gone forward in brutal cold

3 min read

Sure, we’ve had our days of unseasonable warmth lately, but remember that stretch back in January when it was so cold we could have ducked into a meat locker to warm up?

Football fans in Kansas City surely do. On its way to winning its second Super Bowl in a row and its third since 2020, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Miami Dolphins 26-7 in the NFL wild card game at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 13 in conditions that could generously be described as arduous. The temperature at game time was 4 below zero. The wind chill made it feel like 27 below.

That is, of course, weather fit for neither man nor beast, as the saying goes.

But Arrowhead Stadium was packed to the very top of its highest tiers. This shouldn’t have been surprising. Football fans are devout, as anyone who has lived in this region can attest. You can bet your last dollar that every seat in Acrisure Stadium will be occupied the next time the Steelers have a spot in the playoffs. Though there were some who questioned whether the game should go forward, NFL officials said there was nothing impeding anyone from getting to Arrowhead Stadium, like a raging snowstorm, so, Siberian conditions be damned, the game was on.

Several media reports over the last week or so have indicated that some of the fans who braved the game could be paying a much heavier price than the cost of their tickets. Unsurprisingly, a segment of spectators suffered frostbite, and some of them will require amputations, according to Research Medical Center in Kansas City. More amputations may occur as the “injuries evolve,” according to the hospital.

One fan reportedly suffered severe frostbite in the five minutes he removed his gloves to pitch a tent in the parking lot. Dr. Megan Garcia, director of the burn unit at Research Medical Center, told a Kansas City television station, “The patients who had their frostbite injuries along with the Chiefs game, they are just getting to the point now we are starting to discuss their amputations that might be necessary.”

A reasonable argument could be made that fans knew what they were getting into when they purchased tickets to the game, or ultimately decided to attend in the brutal weather. Stadium officials have pointed out that there were warming stations in the concourse. Plus, football is built on a mystique of toughness – if the players can head out onto the field and take blows in unforgiving conditions, why can’t fans grit out the extreme cold for a few hours?

But an equally reasonable argument could be made that the game should have been delayed a day or two, like the Steelers’ playoff game with the Buffalo Bills, so that it could be played when the weather was just a bit better.

For the safety of fans and players, it’s time for the National Football League to establish some kind of minimum temperature in order for games to go forward. At least 0 degrees, perhaps?

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