Reporting from Canton, Ohio
Last night’s Hall of Fame game had a delayed start due to lightning in the area.
— Fᴏᴏᴛʙᴀʟʟ Zᴇʙʀᴀs🇺🇦 (@footballzebras) August 4, 2022
There are a few games every year – preseason and regular season – that are lightning delayed. The game will continue in a downpour, but lightning stops everything.
Until a few years ago, deciding when to quit a game was all about visual testing. If the officials determined that lightning posed a threat, they would suspend the game. There is now technology to detect lightning, including its distance. In amateur football, once lightning strikes within a certain radius of the stadium (about eight miles), officials suspend play and order both teams off the field. The stadium management then moves the supporters under the stadium.
According to NFHS (high school) rules, the area must be flash-free for 30 minutes before officials can resume play.
But that was not the case many years ago. In this clip you can see and hear the flashes of that 1980 Week 1 game between the Tampa Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals. Referee Fred Wyant played, though the TV nearly lost the picture.
Thanks to technology and established policies, officials today do not have to determine how close lightning is and whether to suspend the game.
When lightning gets too close (like the Hall of Fame game), everyone follows the rules and waits for Mother Nature to have the final say.