By Will Brown
Hurricane Irma hit the Gulf Coast of Florida this past weekend and proceeded to move up the state. The size and width of the storm ensured that all areas of the state would be affected–even those that were not in the storm’s direct path. The path of the storm also affected areas of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, although it weakened as it got further inland. The storm caused the postponement or cancellation of many major sporting events in the state over the weekend, and the storm will continue to impact sporting events throughout the state in weeks ahead.
Last weekend, many college football games in Florida were cancelled. The University of Central Florida, who play in Orlando, cancelled a home game against the University of Memphis. The University of Florida, who play in Gainesville, cancelled a home game against the University of Northern Colorado. Florida State University, whose home is in Tallahassee cancelled a game against Louisiana Monroe University.
The University of Miami was scheduled to play a road game against Arkansas State University last weekend, but elected to cancel the game due to travel concerns regarding the storm. Miami Athletic Director Blake James explained his decision to cancel their trip to Arkansas by issuing a statement explaining, “As we have seen from the tragic impact of Hurricane Harvey—and from South Florida’s own experiences— the impact of hurricanes can be devastating and long-lasting, and can make travel extremely difficult and dangerous.” The University of South Florida also cancelled a road game against the University of Connecticut for the same reasons.
Florida Atlantic University did not elect to cancel their road game against the University of Wisconsin. After the game, they were unable to return to Boca Raton, Fla., and they remained in Wisconsin for days afterwards. The University of Wisconsin offered FAU the use of their training facilities, lodging and other resources until they were able to return home.
Other schools in the path of the storm moved their games to neutral site locations. Florida International University moved their game against Mississippi’s Alcorn State University to Birmingham, Ala. FIU moved the date of that game from Saturday to Friday because Georgia Southern University also moved their home game against New Hampshire to Birmingham and scheduled it for the following day.
College Football is not the only major sport to be impacted by Hurricane Irma. In the NFL, a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins was rescheduled for November 19. This game was originally supposed to be played on September 10, the same day the Hurricane landed in South Florida. In the MLB, a series between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays was moved out of Tampa and into Citi Field in New York City. The Tampa area was expected to be one of the hardest hit areas of the storm, but fortunately it did not get hit as hard as expected.
While the storm has now dissipated, it is still impacting the set of sports games scheduled to be played in Florida this weekend. The rivalry game between Miami and Florida State, which was originally supposed to occur on Saturday, has been moved to October 7. The University of Florida is also supposed to play a major home game next weekend against The University of Tennessee, but that game will occur as scheduled. The University of Central Florida also cancelled a home game against Georgia Tech this weekend, but The University of South Florida and Florida Atlantic University are still scheduled to play.
The NFL is scheduled to have two games played in Florida this weekend. The Jacksonville Jaguars are scheduled to host the Tennessee Titans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are supposed to host the Chicago Bears. Both games will occur as scheduled.
Update: The cancelled game between Florida State University and Louisiana Monroe University has been rescheduled for Saturday, December 2.