Football fans have traditionally been at the mercy of the weather.
62 years ago, our Ohio State Buckeyes led by Elyria High graduate Vic Janowicz, played in the most legendary of foul weather games, the Snow Bowl. Actually, it wasn’t a bowl game at all, it was the regularly scheduled battle between Ohio State and…that team up north. (Writer’s note: Keeping with Buckeye tradition, I believe that to honor the memory of Coach Woody Hayes it is disloyal to mention the proper name of the state from which our opponent originates.) The night before, Columbus saw more than a foot of snow fall and the blizzard continued right through game time. Students were called down from the stands to help roll the tarps back, and for most fans at Ohio Stadium that day, the scoreboard and parts of the field were not visible due to blinding snow. The whipping wind, ice on the ball and frozen hands made what should have been a terrific football match-up into a comedy of errors. Heisman recipient Janowicz set two more NCAA records in the 9-3 loss to…those guys that day; most punts in a game (21) and most punting yards in a game (685).
As much as the game is remembered for the mess on the field, it’s remembered for the fans. According to OSU archives records 50,503 fans braved the elements and huddled together to watch eleven warriors drive across the field that hellish day. I don’t know which was worse, nearly freezing to death or having to watch our boys lose to…you know.
Although I predict a win for my Buckeyes next week, I can’t predict the weather.With that in mind here’s a few helpful tips for gridiron fans to stay warm, borrowed from your brothers in the duck blind and the deer stand.
Mom was right when she told you to dress in layers. However, times have changed and there are better fabrics now than your mother ever imagined.
First the base layer, next to your skin. There’s nothing wrong with the old style thermal underwear, but you can do better. The new generation of Under Armour style base layers has revolutionized outdoors wear. This tight-fitting lightweight material works times better than the old stuff because it’s breathable and wicks moisture away. As you move around, like during that long walk up the ramp to C-Deck, you perspire. If that moisture sits next to your skin it will chill you. I have spent many a frosty morning in the deer stand, toasty and thankful for the invention of new aged fabrics like these. There’s a less expensive version called Dri-Power from Russell Athletic which works just as well and is more durable.
Next to your feet, your fingers are going to be your biggest challenge in keeping warm. You don’t need much use of your hands during the game, so my suggestion is to stuff them away. Also very handy in the duck blind is a hunters muff, which wraps around your waist or neck with a plastic buckle. A hundred grams of Thinsulate is what I recommend, and you can just tuck your gloved hands right inside for easy access. If it’s super-cold, toss a disposable hand warmer in there and it’s like a little den for the fingers.
The middle layer has to be wool. No matter if the temperature is 14 or 40, the wool sweater insulates against heat loss when you bundle, yet breathes if you strip your coat off. The top layer has to be waterproof, because snow melts. Think Gore-tex, or Scotch Guard. Repeat a spray-on application the night before the game so it has some time to air out. Keeping your feet warm is the biggie. Somebody once told me that you can keep your feet warm by stamping them. This doesn’t really work, it just gives you a bit of physical activity to keep you generally warmer. Conventional wisdom says to wear a pair of cotton socks next to your skin, and then a pair of wool socks for warmth. I’ve always had a problem with this. Every sailor knows cotton equals death. If it gets wet, it keeps moisture, and face it, your feet are going to get wet. Take advantage of some of the new materials like Smartwool, which dries faster and keeps feet warmer. Boots insulated with 60-200 grams of Thinsulate help and the disposable hand-warmer people finally got smart and made adhesive insole warmers!