Much has changed since Dec. 31, 1967. When the crew scheduled to work the NFL championship game awoke in Green Bay, Wis., that morning, they knew they were woefully unprepared for working in cold weather and air temperatures that would dip to minus-15. A last-minute trip to a sporting goods store allowed the officials to buy long underwear, gloves and other apparel they hadn’t packed. Still, they shivered and quaked as the wind whipped through Lambeau Field in a game that has become known as the Ice Bowl. Read about the Ice Bowl from the crew’s perspective.
A modern-day official may similarly get caught short due to changing weather conditions. But the effectiveness and variety of cold weather clothing is far superior to that available to the Ice Bowl crew.
The development of such materials as polypropelene and Gore-Tex allow today’s officials to stay warm while avoiding the bulkiness of old-fashioned foul weather gear. In addition to dressing properly, officials can repel the chill by following some simple guidelines, culled from a variety of medical and apparel-related sources.
Pregame. Before you take the field, do more than the usual amount of stretching and warming up. The increased blood flow will better prepare you for activity in cold weather and help prevent muscle pulls. Reduce activity or stop if you start to sweat.
Dress in layers. If you wear some type of long underwear, wear an insulated top as well. Dressing in layers will allow you to remove or add garments when the weather or game conditions change. Avoid cotton garments because the material absorbs moisture. That eliminates insulation and increases heat loss from the skin. Choose garments made of material that allows perspiration to be wicked away from the skin.
Cover your head. A hat may be part of the standard uniform for your sport, but it won’t help keep you warm. The type of head covering sold by officiating supply companies is light-weight enough to allow for the hat but constructed of a material that will keep your head warm.
Replenish fluids. Most people think drinking water only helps prevent dehyrdation in hot weather. The truth is, you need to replace fluids lost in your breath and from sweat.
Don’t get overheated. Spending an entire halftime period in a heated shed or locker room will cause you to sweat, leading to problems when you return to the cold weather. If necessary, remove layers at halftime and put them back on before you take the field.
Take a warm shower. After the game, a warm (as opposed to hot) shower will help your body readjust to room temperature.
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