Lightning is not a game… it’s not a macho statement… it’s serious as a stopped heart


It’s exhilarating isn’t it? Fooling around with nature? Daring the gods. Playing the fool. Calling people out when they leave the pitch. “C’mon ya’ dandy… whatsamatta? It’s just a little lightning. Chicken!”

Terrance Gavan - Spunky Design. Dead Dogan Design

Terrance Gavan – Spunky Design. Dead Dogan Design

Stop it. Just stop it. It’s as simple as that. If you want to walk down a field in the middle of a howling nor’wester with a dropped dead barometer, lightning bashing the atmosphere and a 30 foot steel pole above your head? Go ahead. Just don’t tell me or the world that what you’re doing is incredibly smart… or incredibly brave. It’s neither. It’s stupid. It’s dumb as a bag of hammers… and if you do it in front of your kids or someone else’s kids? It’s irresponsible. Period.

I’m a soccer referee. If I am in the middle of a game, whether it’s involving  kids or adults and I see lightning? I stop the game. And I start my clock. The rules state that after every additional strike? I restart my watch and time to 30 minutes. Period. If I don’t? And if I let those kids back on the pitch? I am an ex-referee. In Canada. Not Ontario. Not Lindsay. Not Kawartha Lakes. In Canada. Done. I am an ex-ref. I should be too. Because I am endangering lives. period. No argument. Yeah… wear your seatbelt too.

Why? Because lightning kills. It maims. And it is not something anyone should fool around with. If you complain that your soccer organization in Peterborough or Burnaby BC has to call off a night of soccer because of lightning? You have not done your homework. We as a member of a soccer executive? Cannot put players in our charge in harm’s way. Period. It takes one. Just one. Lightning strike to destroy a future. The quote below is taken from the Ontario Soccer  website. It ends the argument. We as a member of the Haliburton Soccer Executive take a few oaths. The most important one is: When it comes to the protection of the people in our care? We are diligent.

Ontario Soccer Web – rulings – In the event of lightning

The safety of players, coaches, management and spectators is the primary concern in any weather event that occurs during all matches sanctioned by the CSA. By understanding and following the information below, the safety of everyone shall be greatly increased. Ultimately the referee has the final say over delaying or restarting a match due to weather. Waiting to stop play or not waiting to start play may result in a serious injury or loss of life.

Click here to read the full policy on Lightning, the 30 for 30 rule and additional information.

We are not being cantankerous or unreasonable when we cancel a night of soccer. We are not being unreasonable when we cancel adult soccer. Please don’t yell at people who enforce the rulings.

Don’t like it? Don’t tell us. Write a letter to Ontario Soccer, The Supreme Court, your local MP, or the Globe and Mail. Please do some reading about lightning before you do. Otherwise they may dismiss your rant as unenlightened, dumb or just plain crabby. So research is good… if you’d like to offer some viable arguments as to why your nine year old should be able to play in an open field with thunderstorms in the air.

How do I know? Because one evening in Fairmont, on the fifth fairway of my home golf course, tasked with managing irrigation in a devilish drought, I decided to ignore my training and threats of suspension, by staying out at 2 a.m. to finish watering a fairway. It was against the rules. But all I saw over the Columbia River was heat lightning. Blanket shots of static over the river valley. No clouds above me and 23 straight days without rain.

Next thing I knew I was on my back. Hair stood up straight on my head. And the clean crisp smell of ozone prickling my nose hairs.

Twenty feet away a tree was split to the stump and a friend of mine was running at me from his fairway condo.

Me? I said to him. “Jeez, don’t tell Greg (Our course Superintendent and my boss) that I was out here.” Because it was an automatic two to three week suspension for flaunting the lightning rules that all staff signed.

That was in 2001 and I can still remember how fresh the air was, sitting in the grass, that close to a lightning strike.

So I do not fool around with lightning. And I do not taunt anyone who makes a beeline for the nearest car at the first snap of thunder.

The old joke goes… An evangelical minister is walking down the fairway at Augusta during a howling thunderstorm with a one iron held high above his head. “Pastor,” he was asked, “aren’t you worried?”

“No,” the pastor responds. “Even God can’t hit a one iron.”

Yeah. He can. Period.

Get gav @ @terrancegavan

Author: Terrance Gavan

I am a story teller, web editor, writer, editor and blogger.

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