SIDELINE OBSERVATIONS: Winter no time for outdoor sports

Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 03:02 PM.

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.

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