Huge game scheduled for tonight at the Arena, where Hofstra and Drexel will likely determine the winner of the mythical East Coast Conference championship. Whomever comes out on top will take sole possession of first place in the ECC at 4-1 and have only a game remaining against Delaware, which means the victor can basically clear space in the rafters for the championship banner that does not exist.
Too bad almost no one will see this mammoth monstrous mythical battle if it is played as scheduled, since we’re supposed to get a mammoth monstrous massive blizzard (you think you can alliterate, Litos? Top that!). The forecast calls for at least a foot of snow on Long Island, with the heaviest snow arriving in the afternoon to early evening hours. Winds may gust up to 40 miles per hour at the peak of the storm.
This one will be so big and so bad that Hofstra has already cancelled classes for today (as have most schools on the Island). So why, according to the press release sent out Tuesday to promote the Hofstra-Drexel game, is it “…expected to be played as scheduled, despite the winter weather forecast for the New York area on Wednesday?”
Let me make one thing clear: Calling for a snow-related postponement goes against just about everything I hold near and dear. I grew up in northwest Connecticut, where we got socked with heavy snow just about every winter. I hear about blizzards and I laugh, because if you were in New England for the Blizzard of ’93, you know most people—with the possible exception of those living in the mid-Atlantic circa Saturday—haven’t seen a real blizzard yet.
The concept of driving in the snow usually doesn’t intimidate me in the least, even after years and years of watching my dear beloved late Mom order the family cars off the road at the sight of the first flake. Instead of inheriting her caution, I came to view driving in the snow as fun. Most of the Nervous Nellies are off the road, which actually makes things easier. Just be careful, don’t slam the brakes if you start to slide and you’ll be fine.
And as recently as Saturday—when snow was forecast to sock the area in the hours before the Flying Dutchmen-Northeastern game—I scoffed at the idea of a postponement. Eight inches is nothing. Leave a couple hours early, take your time and enjoy the game.
The total snowfall today isn’t expected to be much heavier than what was expected Saturday. But the timing and power of it sounds ominous.
Personally, I’m a bit reluctant to get behind the wheel in blizzard conditions because the one car we own that is best-equipped to handle the snow—my ancient Chevy Lumina—began hemorrhaging antifreeze on the way to Connecticut Monday. I fear if we take my car, it’ll break down and my wife and I will star in a roadside version of Alive.
The other car is brand new and belongs to my wife, who has already declared that if the snow is as bad as predicted, I’m going to have to ski my way to Hempstead.
And if it’s bad enough to cancel classes, then why is the game still on as scheduled? Why not do the right thing, postpone it 24 hours and ensure that anyone who wants to see the game can do so without traveling through a blizzard to do so?
I know the situation is more complicated than I can imagine. Drexel has already spent money for lodging on Long Island, so a postponement will create a hefty additional expense for the Dragons’ athletic department. This wasn’t a problem when the Hofstra-Rider wrestling match scheduled for today was postponed as the Flying Dutchmen were traveling to and from Rider in one day.
To stay over another night on Long Island will cost Drexel players another day of classes as well. Re-scheduling the game for Thursday is problematic because both teams are playing Saturday—Hofstra at UNC-Wilmington, Drexel at home against Delaware.
In the CAA, precedent has been set for both playing the game as scheduled and postponing it. The James Madison at Towson and UNC Wilmington at Delaware games scheduled for Saturday were postponed until Monday due to the mid-Atlantic blizzard while the Old Dominion at VCU and George Mason at Drexel games went on as scheduled despite the horrible weather. In addition, the Drexel at William & Mary game was postponed from Jan. 30 to Jan. 31 by snow.
Nor is playing the game Thursday going to magically result in the super-rare mid-week sellout. But there will surely be more people there tomorrow than tonight, and the players deserve to be accompanied by sounds other than the ones generated by their sneakers.
As for the other wrinkles created by a postponement: Hey, everyone had to play a Saturday-Monday-Wednesday combo at the start of January. Teams can play two regular season games in three days again when circumstances dictate it.
Not to oversimplify things, but college basketball players study and take tests on the road all the time. What’s another day of mobile class work in the grand scheme? And if the snow is as bad as expected, the Dragons may be stuck on Long Island anyway tonight.
Most of all, a school that climbs an uphill battle every year to get and retain fans should do whatever it can to ensure as many of those folks can actually get to the game. If the weather reports are correct—and they’re never wrong!—then traveling to Hofstra at 5 or 6 p.m. will be risky at best and stupid at worst. Why ask your 750 season ticket holders, plus however many regular walk-up patrons you draw, to risk life and limb to get there?
Plus, if you have a season ticket to Hofstra basketball, you are probably old enough to remember the ECC, or at least the NAC, and how a home game against Drexel—one of the few schools that Hofstra can identify as a historic rival—is always one to circle on the calendar.
Hofstra has never been any good at building relationships with its most loyal supporters, and I can guarantee you the school will further strain those ties if it goes on with this game tonight in whiteout conditions. But a postponement could finally reward those whose loyalty to the program stretches back decades, those who continue to support Hofstra basketball even as the downtrodden economy stretches our checkbooks.
No one’s asking Hofstra to postpone the game right now. Make sure the reports are for real and that the worst of it is indeed arriving in the afternoon and evening hours. And then do the right thing, Hofstra, and postpone the game.