After spending much of our week in the dark, I’m figuring about this time it’s my job to put this whole thing in perspective, or at the very least, remind people that power failures have a place in sports, too.
While uncommon, there have been some pretty memorable times that the lights have gone out, leaving fans, players and the world wondering what happened. Sort of like this Public Safety Power Shutoff thing we’re dealing with today. I managed to watch Game 7 of the World Series from an iPad using a data network since my power and of course internet was down. I guess sometimes we fans have to do what we have to do, even when faced with odd and questionable circumstances. Which pretty much sums up our current predicament in California.
There were times as we look back that power actually turned the tide of the game. Most of us remember Super Bowl XLVII between the 49ers and Ravens. With Baltimore in control early in the second half, the lights went out in the Superdome, causing a 34-minute delay. Remember the 49ers came roaring back after that from 17 points down but fell five points shy on their final touchdown drive and the Ravens won. That was when Colin Kaepernick had power for the 49ers now he sits in a self-induced blackout following his poor social choices and endorsements. Anytime a quarterback job opens up and he doesn’t get the call his agent cries foul. Like PSPS, many of us just wish he would go away.
In 1989, the World Series was rocked with an earthquake prior to Game 3 between the A’s and Giants. Power outages knocked ABC television off the air for 40 minutes before some sort of feed could be reestablished. Remember, in an era before cell phones and data networks, television news was all we had. The power issues, and the resulting quake damage in the Bay Area, forced a 10-day delay of that series. The A’s held all the power anyway, sweeping the Giants in four games. I’m still waiting for the A’s to win another one and it’s moments like that when we’re reminded that disaster can be so much greater than a few days in the dark.
I once caused a power outage of sorts at Cal State Bakersfield. In an effort to bring more pop to the pregame introductions at the basketball games, the marketing team decided to purchase fog machines and strobe lights, but naturally couldn’t afford the additional people to run them properly. So they had this brilliant idea to plug a few machines court-side by the broadcast teams and even instructed me to flip the switch on one of them, as if I didn’t already have three things going on. When I did, the entire press row went dark, as did the scoreboard, public address announcer and everyone else there for an account of the game. It was quickly diagnosed and we returned to action a few minutes later than expected. Like the power companies, poor planning can have ramifications down the line.
And then 25,000 people in 2012 went dark when the power grid in Argentina failed while the national soccer team faced Brazil. Half the stadium’s lights went out but they played on for several minutes until the goalkeepers made their case known that they couldn’t see the shots and play was stopped. Accounts of the game describe Brazil coaches claiming that would never happen in their country, although it did two years later when they were hosting the World Cup. Lesson to be learned; nobody is too good for power problems, including the United States, or specifically, California.
Even this season we had the second-half blackout at Taft while the Warriors played football. The stadium lights inexplicably went dark. It was sort of a premonition to how the rest of the game and the inconsistency of the season would be. Sometimes the lights were on, and sometimes the lights were off and there was nobody home. Let’s hope those of us who are home will have lights, but please take this as a humble attempt to put this giant PSPS mess into perspective, and put a little humor into a nonsensical situation.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.