(Photo Credit: www.latimes.com)
For anyone living under a rock, the air conditioner in the San Antonio Spurs’ arena did not work during Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals. This led to extreme temperatures of 90 degrees on the court, and resulted in a horrible atmosphere for the fans and exhaustion for the players. LeBron James, suffering from excruciating leg cramps, was forced to leave the game during the fourth quarter, and ultimately the Miami Heat lost, 110-95. While many are calling James a quitter, seemingly doubting the level of pain he was in, some are wondering if the game should have even been played at all.
As I was just starting to live-tweet the game Tuesday night, I noticed that many members of the media were commenting on how stuffy it was inside the AT&T Center. I wondered if this was to make note of how many people came to enjoy the first game but soon enough, I realized something was wrong. As more tweets about removing blazers and chugging bottled beverages started to appear, it was announced that the air conditioning was broken. I will admit that my first thoughts were along the lines of “those sneaky Texans.” Perhaps the initial act was done unintentionally, but did no one notice how hot it was during shoot around? Pre-game news conference? Anything? But I regress.
The game went on, and screenshots of iPhones reading 85 degrees flooded the Twitter-sphere, quickly turning into 90 degrees shortly after halftime. I could not help but ask myself “should they postpone this game?” But the better question is, should they have played to begin with?
Here are the facts:
- It reached 90 degrees on the court that evening.
- Because of the heat, athletes burned more calories at a higher speed.
- They also could not keep themselves as hydrated as necessary.
- While some people seemed fine, others became lethargic or worse; certain people tolerate different temperatures differently.
- The court and ball were more slippery than usual, given the excess sweat being produced.
Now, with this said, was there danger in allowing Game 1 to proceed business as usual? Yes and no. On the one hand, one could argue that there was no imminent threat to anyone there that night. On top of that, it was hot of course, but both teams are from warm climate cities. There was water and Gatorade handy. On the other hand, there have been people who have died of a heat stroke. Anyone who suffers from the likes of high or low blood pressure and/or a heart condition can tell you that life becomes increasingly more difficult, the hotter it gets. Mix that with a high performance athletic activity and there is definitely potential trouble. Plus, as James proved, there are certainly other health risks associated with becoming overheated. I would also like to bring up the last point above, regarding the court being wet. Obviously it was wiped down every available chance, but even so, why take the chance of players getting injured from slipping? Seems pretty silly to me.
Fortunately, the worst it got Thursday night was James’ leg cramps, but personally I feel as though there could have been an argument to be made for rescheduling Game 1. Soccer and baseball games get rained out. Football games get delayed due to snow. Should the show always go on when it comes to basketball?