Slippery courts

It's hard to call off games due to weather. Most of us love to play so much that we'll endure rain, cold, snow or extreme heat in order to play the game we love.

Futsal outdoors poses special challenges because moisture can linger on surfaces even when the sun is shining and temperatures are mild. The plastic tiles that we play on at The Cage provide a good surface when they are dry, but they are nasty and treacherous when wet. A situation that is particularly hard to judge is when the court appears to be dry, but there is also a significant amount of moisture in the air.

Over the last couple of years, we have had to make difficult calls about whether The Cage was safe. Thus far, we've relied on guesswork and optimism rather than a hard-and-fast, science-based rule. Recently, we made the decision to play a game at The Cage after a humid day with light drizzle. Still, an hour before kickoff, the court appeared to be dry, with no visible moisture, so we decided to try to play. The resulting game turned out to be too dangerous, with numerous slips and spills (fortunately there were no serious injuries).

We decided to play the game based on the usual hazy guesswork and optimism, and because the surface appeared to be dry. But from the first whistle, it was apparent that the surface was too hazardous for safe play.

We need to do better at making good decisions, so we are establishing a new policy for play on outdoor plastic surfaces, effective immediately. This policy is based on the temperature/ dew point spread.

Dew point is the temperature at which moisture in the air condenses on surfaces. When the air temperature matches the dew point, the result is dew or frost, depending on whether the temperature is above or below freezing. On the night of the aforementioned recent game, the air temperature was 64, and the dew point was 62. That margin was too close, so going forward, we'll make the minimum spread 5 degrees (with no visible moisture). If that proves to be insufficient, we'll raise the threshold some more.

Futsal is a fast-paced game in tight quarters, and collisions and injuries are an inherent risk. However, there are things we can do to mitigate risk, like establishing minimum climate standards. If you have any other safety concerns, please let us know at info@durhamatletico.com.