On taking a snow day

Published 10:02 am Friday, February 27, 2015

On Tuesday at 5:45 p.m., the routing had been done to set up the camera and lighting equipment. As the Franklin Broncos are doing their warm-ups, the test shots are starting to get better. The projected game time is less than 15 minutes away, though that’ll probably be delayed, since Chincoteague High School, the opponent, is still five minutes away due to traffic moving slowly.

This is not a sports column, however, as suddenly, the athletic director approaches me, thanks me for coming and apologizes because the game has been canceled. The superintendent has made the decision to call Chincoteague, traveling from the Eastern Shore, and he tells them to turn right back around when they are already in Franklin.

Certainly, on the one hand it makes sense. The roads were getting bad because it had started snowing again, so there was potential for them to get worse before it was over. Based on previous icy conditions, the roads leading from the high school to Route 58 would not have been the city’s first priority to clear, particularly so at 6 o’clock on a Tuesday evening with it still snowing.

On the other hand, these students, coaches and bus driver have already risked making it to Franklin, and were about to get back on the highway toward the Eastern Shore before VDOT had a chance to clear the roads. Also during this time, the Virginia State Police was working a high number of accidents that could have been cleared given time for, say, a basketball game to take place.

The same thing happened in Windsor shortly thereafter, with a team having traveled from the Richmond area for a playoff game. That team wasn’t quite as close, as tipoff wasn’t until 7 p.m.

One of our reporters was stuck in traffic on his way there, due to the aforementioned traffic buildup in Hampton Roads. Our photographer, however, was set up and ready to go.

Now, in hindsight, the divisions made the right decision to cancel the games. Playing a basketball game, even though it is the post-season, is certainly not worth risking injury to young lives.

The decision was just made about an hour and a half to two hours too late.

This snowstorm did not sneak up on us. By 3 p.m., the roads were already starting to turn into a giant interconnected ice skating rink for cars. It was only projected to get worse.

Why couldn’t the call have been made before those Chincoteague students got on the bus?

Telling a team of student athletes that they can’t play in a post-season game is a tough task, as they want to play for a championship. It’s particularly tough since the snow has caused several games or even tournaments around the state to be canceled, so there’s pressure to get it in, now or never.

But as a leader, sometimes you have to make tough decisions. The snow causes us at The Tidewater News to make decisions we don’t want to make, and we’re just one of the many businesses in one community that have to make those calls.

If those students had been in an accident going back, once they were almost already to Franklin, it would have been on the leadership. It almost feels like negligence even if they did not get in an accident.

Cain Madden is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He can be reached at 562-3187 or cain.madden@tidewaternews.com.