Miller: What’s A “Snow Day?”

It is an honor and a privilege to get to cover high school sports throughout each school year in northern Michigan. But now that the holiday season is passed, we enter into one of my least favorite times of year on the high school sports calendar. It’s still a long slog to the girls and boys basketball finals in East Lansing in mid-to-late March, and Mother Nature frequently makes sure that the days between now and then remain interesting.

I always hoped and prayed for snow days when I was in school, but in the “real world” now, there is really no such animal. On rough weather days, our little four-person department scrambles to find out which schools are open, and if they aren’t, does that mean that the basketball, hockey or wrestling event for that night has been canceled as well?

With more than 110 schools in our coverage area, that translates to close to 250 different teams between boys basketball, girls basketball and hockey. It’s a daunting task to be on top of all of those various programs, and aware of the status of their individual games. It takes a coordinated and concerted effort to find out which games are still going on, and which ones we can get to and cover for a particular evening’s sportscast. So, while some of the athletes we cover are at home, enjoying an episode of “The Price is Right” or out getting in snowball fights or playing in the winter wonderland, we’re making phone calls, and sending texts and emails to find our games for that evening.

And on those rare Friday nights, when Mother Nature tries to intercede with “Sports Overtime,” things can get really hairy, as we try to re-calibrate coverage not just for one to two cameras, but for the seven to eight shooters that we have out getting highlights all over the region, because while the conditions might be fine in one section of our coverage area, it is rarely uniform from Ludington up to the Soo (and everywhere in between).

Along with the logistical issues that the weather causes, it also makes traveling more treacherous, as anyone that’s driven up here in the winter for more than a day or two quickly learns. Driving is a big part of our jobs when we’re putting sports highlights on the air for “Sports Extra” and “Sports Overtime,” and even a small travel delay can sometimes be the difference between a game making it on the air, and not. It can become very frustrating when winter travel conditions adversely affect which games we’re able to cover.

But, when we can get things all lined up, and bring you highlights on air, even on days when you think that no one would be out traveling to a basketball game, it’s a great feeling. It’s the sincerest form of our dedication to our viewers and the athletes and schools that we cover. We care about our local sports, and we’ll always be somewhere… rain or shine… or snow.

Categories: Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball, Hockey, Wrestling