Carter's Call

February 01, 2017

Ben Carter discusses summer sports and when is too hot to keep playing

FEELING hot, hot, hot lately?

Me, too.

And summer sport is summer sport, of course.

And the game must go on, but sometimes one does wonder at what cost?

I’ve spent my fair share of time under sunny skies over the best part of seven years as a sports reporter — and that’s also included my own fair share of sunburn.

Even before my writing career commenced, I was a scorer with Port Adelaide’s B grade cricket team back in South Australia’s district competition.

There was one particularly sweltering Saturday spent at Glenelg Oval against the Bay of Holdfast Tigers.

One intelligent member of the Magpies’ playing XI thwacked a thermometer into the turf right on the boundary’s edge — not even out in the centre of the pitch.

The weather forecast may have said something like 42 degrees Celsius.

Ground level? Closer to 50C.

Our captain inquired as to whether there’d be a chance to cancel.

No chance.

According to the South Aussie association, A and B grade carried on, as both grades were considered to be full of players aspiring to state or national selection honours. And thus should be able to handle such testing — nay, trying — conditions.

C, D and all junior grades got to go home.

Fast-forward some 10 years and I’ve forged ahead as a cricket umpire in the Northern District competition here in Victoria.

The temp was again set at 42C or more, and umpires were given leeway by the governing body to either abandon play altogether or treat the extreme weather in the same way as rain, and reduce the amount of overs spent out on the field.

With premiership points on the line, neither captain was prepared to not play.

So on we went, with double drinks breaks galore.

Clearly, within health and safety reason, the game (generally) must go on.

The last couple of weeks have seen more super-excessive heat in the twin towns.

But lawn bowlers still bowl later in the day.

Cricketers likewise.

And tennis players — just like the pros at the apparently wildly successful Australian Open last month — seem so keen to just keep on running the baseline beyond boiling point.

However, it’s still probably unwise to push the human body too much too often.

If it’s seriously hot out there for the media covering an event, what must it be like for those taking part?

Witness Sunday’s A-League game between hosts Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix at Hindmarsh Stadium.

It was at least 38C out on the pitch and the teams agreed to have drinks every 15 minutes.

That ended up being four in total — the same number as the goals scored across the afternoon.

Football Federation Australia declared conditions to have been safe enough, despite the ‘Nix from New Zealand preferring — and asking for but not receiving — a later kick-off time.

The Reds seemed not to mind either way.

The game (generally) must go on.

And go further — as it will in the case of the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League, which in the past week confirmed four new entries for the 2017 season.

Following the withdrawal of Shepparton, Shepparton South, Shepparton United and Tatura from the Goulburn Valley North-East league, the Moama-Echuca Border Raiders will face 11 opponents instead of seven this winter.

It’s great for the sport in the district to have more varied competition — and hopefully more opponents for the Raiders to beat on the way to a senior title.

The game (generally) must go on.

Though hopefully — even with the potential for future topographic or climactic alterations due to seven billion people strolling the biosphere — it won’t be anywhere near close to 50C by the second weekend of July. Yet.

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