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Updated Oct. 10, 2011

Lightning and thunderstorms play havoc with games during the early football season.

OHSAA General Sports Regulations 20 and 35 and NFHS rule 3-1-4 address lightning (inclement weather) related suspensions. When lightning or other event beyond the control of game management interrupts an interscholastic contest (football game), the contest shall be resumed from the point of interruption unless the teams agree to terminate the game with the existing score.

Problems arise when competing schools’ representatives do not clearly communicate that the game will be rescheduled, when it will be rescheduled and where. That series of mutual decisions should be made before the teams leave the site.

Who makes the decision? Once the officiating team assumes authority for the game, the Referee is responsible to suspend the game when lightning is in the area. The referee will not resume play until after the lightning leaves the area. Once a decision is made that the game cannot be resumed that day, school administrators & coaches must decide when the game will be completed.

Who does decide if the game will be continued? Administrators and coaches from the competing teams should meet in order to discuss options. Remember, the game must be played in its entirety beginning at the point of interruption UNLESS the participating schools agree to terminate the game with the existing score. School administrators and coaches must communicate with each other at the game site.

Because many summer storms develop in the late afternoon or early evening, the OHSAA recommends that games continued the next day be scheduled as early in the day as possible (i.e., late mornings or early afternoons). Obviously, other scheduled events and travel times must be factored in.

Also, as a point of clarification, the game films shall remain in the possession of the participating schools. 


Coaches, certified athletic trainers, athletes, game officials and administrators must be aware of potential inclement weather and the signs which indicate thunderstorm development.  Every year there are several deaths due to lightning strikes.  Over the last several years there were several athletes in the United States killed by lightning.
* Monitor Weather Patterns -- Be aware of potential thunderstorms by monitoring local weather forecasts the day before and morning of the competition and by scanning the sky for signs of potential thunderstorm activity.
* National Weather Service -- Weather can be monitored using small, portable weather radios from the NWS. The NWS uses a system of severe storm watches and warnings. A watch indicates conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop in an area; a warning indicates severe weather has been reported in an area, and everyone should take proper precautions.

When thunder is heard or lightning is seen, suspend play and take shelter immediately. Once play has been suspended, wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard or lightning flash is witnessed prior to resuming play.

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