Rhett’s Rant of the Week #3: Football Stadiums

The U.S. Open recently laid plans out to build a retractable roof for Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, that should be done by 2016 or 2017. My question here is….what took so long?

Tennis of all sports could use the retractable roofs considering that the games cannot be played with rain, and so it only makes sense that they would have a retractable roof in order to keep play going smoothly. But while tennis is finally getting into the idea of putting a roof over the stadium, there is another sport that has been slow to get their act together on this front: football.

Of the 32 current NFL franchises, only 5 have domes, with an additional 4 having retractable roofs. That is pathetic. Football needs domes/retractable roofs because not having them affects the outcomes of games, and not in a good way. Many times it may lead to the better team not winning.

And it’s not necessarily in the ways you may think. Some may think battling the cold, rain, and snow is part of the game, as that is how football was played from its origins. Football at one time also didn’t have a forward pass to worry about. And while one may think that rain and snow favors the defense, in actuality many times it favors the offense. Because the balls can be switched in and out with ease in the NFL, throwing in these situations may not matter as much, and when the field is wet, that actually favors the offense. This is because the offense knows where they are going in advance, whereas the defense is reacting.

In addition, (and really the primary issue here) is the case of wind.

Take the game above as a great example of the damages wind can cause. In addition to ruined shotguns, no passing abilities, and a non-existent kicking game, the players’ movements were literally affected. Players’ careers are literally altered by having to play in Buffalo, and therefore not being able to put up the same numbers as someone who plays their games in the dome life of New Orleans.

Allowing weather to dictate the outcomes of games makes little to no sense. The rule changes that have occurred over time have always been towards promoting skill and athleticism over the “toughness” that is also known as luck of how weather affects any given player. It is not tough to play in conditions like that, when there is technology available to do otherwise, it is stupid, and it increases the injury risk of playing. If the fans of football were so into toughness, they shouldn’t be watching games from the comfort of their homes and should instead go out into the wild where the real men live and survive fighting real bears, not just the ones from Chicago.

Football games should be played with a roof overhead (assuming poor weather conditions) and on a turf field. Not having proper conditions to play on increases the risk of injury, and for a league that supposedly cares so much about player safety, the NFL should make roofs a requirement. If you’re one of those people that wants to go back to the days of “three yards and a cloud of dust”, outdoor football, and on grass fields I have a great sport for you: rugby. For the sake of having the best teams win, let’s fix the problem: make every team have a roof.


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