Further Review: Weather You Like It Or Not
Column by Ken Cohen
What a tough spring to play a sport any sport! Towels have been replaced by blankets and uniforms have been expanded to include turtlenecks, ski caps and thermals. Up until Wednesday, virtually every day in April was in the 40s with wind chills often in the 30s.
I've tried to find a rhythm playing golf and have come up empty. It's not really the cold that's been bothersome, but the wind. While it's keeping the ground dry, it's complicating early-season preparedness. When you should just be working on your fundamentals and trying to find a repetitive motion, you end up playing to the conditions rather than staying true to a set regimen.
But, it is what it is. Sports demands adjustments and patience. If anything, a spring like this can equalize outcomes. Overmatched teams or individuals can stay competitive just by using the weather to their advantage. I remember playing in the quarterfinals of the New Jersey Mid-Amateur in 1998 in a steady rain. My opponent (Bob) had cruised through the first two rounds and looked like he was in good form. I scraped past my first-round match and really wasn't sharp.
I'm by no means a good mudder I much prefer the cold to the rain. But I could see right away while we were warming up on the practice range that Bob wanted no part of these conditions. He looked uncomfortable with all his gear on and was grumbling about why we were even playing. I knew I had a mental advantage, even if I had a history of poor performances in the rain.
Of course, a little gamesmanship never hurts in sports. Knowing that Bob was struggling with the rain, I purposely took a little more time getting ready for my shots and reading putts just so Bob could get a little wetter and madder. It got to the point where I didn't even care how I was playing, which wasn't very well I simply wanted to not play worse than Bob. For me, that day, the strategy worked, as I defeated Bob on the 16th hole. It actually spearheaded me to eventually win the tournament.
There's little doubt in my mind that had the match against Bob been played in good weather, I would have probably lost. Bob's game was primed for dry and comfortable conditions. But he gave me an opening simply by his body language and comments on the driving range. It was exactly the "equalizer" I needed to win the match.
No matter how awful the weather or playing conditions are, if they're playing the game or match, someone must prevail. That winner is usually the one who does just enough to be better than the team or individual they're playing. Its' not about having your best stuff or "A" game but rather just having "a' game that can hold up and outlast the opponent.
Weather is a big part of sports, sometimes a bigger factor in determining winners than actual talent or skill. I've always been good with that because the beauty of sports is it requires a combination of physical, mental and instinctive abilities. That's why I have no problem with the Super Bowl being played in New York in February next year. If it's bitterly cold or snowing, so be it. Some team will figure out a way to win the game.
Ken Cohen brings 30 years of publishing experience, many covering sports and working for sports companies, His column, “Further Review” will appear every Friday.