This week has brought extreme cold and icy/snowy weather to a lot of people. So while the cold weather is on everyone's mind, what's the coldest sporting event you've ever been to?
While I'm sure there I've been to colder, the one that jumps to mind is a South Carolina v. Citadel baseball game either last season or the one before. It was at Joe Riley Stadium in Charleston. It was March, but the temperature was low and the wind gusts were aggravatingly persistent, like a series of invisible whiplashes from the Ashley River. I was sitting along the left field line and most likely underdressed since no one really thinks of baseball as cold weather affair (aside from the major league playoffs, I suppose) and evidently I did not endeavor to check the forecast. In any event, I'm quite sure South Carolina lost the game. One thing's for sure: I left prior to its completion.
Growing up in the South and talking about cold sporting events will get some serious eye rolls from our Northern readers, but it was an Auburn vs Ole Miss game. My wife went to Auburn and we took a trip to Oxford. It was early November and I was excited to experience The Grove and all it's tents, food, drinks and of course the Hot Toddy. Our trip was great except for one problem. I didn't wear warm clothes. The entire day, I could not get warm. It didn't help that stadium was like a wind flue. The metal stands were bone chillin' cold. Auburn was winning the game and I was ready to make it back to The Grove, but I was shivering cold and decided to go warm up inside. It was one of those days where you just can't get warm and no matter how much you tried, drinking bourbon or eating hot chili, it just wasn't working. And to really sound like a total cold weather wuss, there were kids running around without a coat like it was Spring time. Eventually, the daylight was fading. I felt like a popsicle. I was nursing a beer. My toes were numb. I was shivering too much to eat. When we finally got back to the car, I blasted the heat for what seemed like an hour before we even left the parking lot. Again, this cold weather experience does not-no-way compare to say like a Packers game in December, but this is the South were talking about and anything in the 40's is freezing to us.
While living in Rochester, NY, I went to a Buffalo Bills home game in early November 2008. It wasn't snowing, but temps were in the 30s when we arrived for the tailgate. Temps got up into the 40s during the game, and it was a daytime game and the sun was out, so that made it somewhat bearable, but it was definitely cold out there. I enjoyed the experience, though. Growing up in the South, you hear about what it's like to tailgate and attend a ball game up north, but I hadn't experienced it myself until this game. Grilling sausages in the cold while drinking Labatt beer was fun. The fans there get pretty rowdy, which is about what I'd expect from a city best described as a free-for-all. The game itself was notable mainly for featuring Brett Favre in a Jets uniform. Also got to see Marshawn Lynch play in a Bills uniform.
If memory serves, the coldest Carolina game I've attended was the 2006 Arkansas game. Darren McFadden and Marcus Monk ripped us apart. Blake Mitchell almost got us back in it in the second half, but not quite.
The coldest game I've ever been to was Northwestern vs. Illinois in 2012. Evanston's always kind of windy (or at least it seems that way), and Ryan Field is on the lake, and those two things, combined with an overcast day and temps that may not have been above 25-30, made for a very, very chilly experience. My sister and I bundled up and stuck foot warmers in our boots and hand warmers in our gloves, but even that wasn't enough to really be warm. It was a good game in that Northwestern beat Illinois handily, but there were a few times where I wondered if I'd be able to make it through the whole game without losing feeling in my extremities. I vaguely remember the sun coming out a little near the end of the game or on the walk back to the El, but I'm fairly certain it took a good hour or so for me to finally stop being cold.
The Friday night game of USC's baseball series against Arkansas in 2013 is probably the most miserably cold sports thing I have ever been to. I know I've been to a couple of football games that technically had a lower temperature, but I can't remember a time in my entire life when I've been colder than I was that night. There are two reasons that game stands out as being my coldest. The first was that I was inadequately dressed for the weather. It was probably in the 40s and I sat out there for hours just wearing jeans with a t-shirt and a hoodie. The second reason is that cold weather is always worse when a game doesn't go well. Arkansas scored 9 runs in the 4th inning and ended up beating us 15-3. There were maybe 100 fans that made it to the end of the game and I was so cold by the time it was over that I could barely move. That game is the reason I now keep a Carolina blanket in my car during the first half of baseball season.
I thought the answer is a 90s debacle against Florida, where Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier ran up a 63-7 win against us. In fact, a review of the weather almanac suggests that it really wasn't that bad, and that the wind was just brutal. All I remember is I was only 11-years old, and it was the first time my parents decided we should pack it up at halftime and head home.
So, begging your indulgence for recency bias, I'll select this year's debacle against the Volunteers as the coldest I've ever been at a sporting event. I was there with a Vawls fan, and we both wanted Tennessee to desperately go for two at the end of the game just to end the agony. Honestly, at the end, I didn't care that we lost nearly as much as I cared about getting to the car.
I would say I felt bad about that truth, but if you were in the upper decks where the wind was cutting through you, and you'd been outside all day tailgating, it was brutal.