By nature, I enjoy cold weather. While my coworkers bundle up at the thought of a 45-degree day, I walk around in a short-sleeve shirt basking in brisk winds that bring me to life.
Only when temperatures dip below 35 do I consider things to be cooling down. And, even I have to admit, a windy 25 or 30 degrees here in Okaloosa County at least feels cold.
We will have plenty of those cold days the next couple of months, and some of the cold will linger into mid-March and perhaps as long as early April.
As much as I enjoy the cooler weather, it can become a problem this time of year.
Soccer season continues into February. As the soccer season wraps up, softball, baseball, tennis and track will get started.
The first day for softball practice was Monday. Baseball practice starts next Monday. Softball preseason games can be played beginning Jan. 27, and regular-season games start Feb. 3.
Baseball teams can play preseason games Feb. 3 and start the regular season Feb. 10.
In other words, half the softball and baseball seasons will be played in the winter.
Now, I'm a baseball guy. Baseball and football are my two favorite sports. I'd be as happy as a termite in a lumber yard if the only two sports I ever had to cover were baseball and football.
But something's just not right about covering a baseball game in February when I can't grip a pencil to take my game notes because my hands are numb from the cold.
The scheduling of Florida's sports seasons is heavily influenced by the state's large metropolitan areas, which, except for Jacksonville, tend to be in the state's central and southern regions.
On any given winter night, Okaloosa County's temperatures typically run 15-20 degrees cooler than in other parts of the state. At times, those temperature differences can be more than 40 degrees. Factoring wind chill and humidity in the equation can drive down how cold it feels by several more degrees.
Cold weather can be more than just an inconvenience for players and fans. Athletes have greater risk of injury in colder conditions when it is more difficult for them to stretch and warm up or stay warm.
Looking on the bright side of things, kids, even here in Northwest Florida, are throwing baseballs and softballs in January, February and March. Their counterparts in northern states are having snowball fights as they wait for the first signs of spring.
In a perfect world, so-called spring sports wouldn't actually start until spring in late March. But the academic calendar often conflicts with the seasonal calendar, and we are forced to make do with what we have.
So if you plan on watching a game on a cold winter night, make sure you bundle up and bring a thermos of your favorite hot beverage.
You'll be glad you did.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.