Howdy from sudden football country in the farthest north city in U.S.
Remember before last Christmas when we had a discussion of Electric Football, which was being played indoors in Barrow, with outdoor temps of 30 below zero and colder?
Since then, this "summer," now we have the first-ever high school football team.
The Barrow Whalers boys team began play OUTDOORS on August 19 in temperatures around 30 degrees, with a north wind blowing in from Point Barrow.
The "football field" is rather unique. No grass here, mostly wet tundra. So the field is a patch of gravel and dirt a few miles north of town, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. The old quonset huts out there are from a former Navy Arctic laboratory, now part of a community college campus. There is a tower nearby where an observer can look out for polar bears. (none sighted so far during games)
No bleachers, scoreboard or grass or astroturf ---just good old gravel and some dirt, with an ample supply of small rocks. Locker rooms for each of the teams are heated school busses, parked near the field.
The idea was to provide more healthy activities for high school boys, and combat a high dropout rate. But some say that the startup of football has to be balanced with its cost, in times of a tight school budget. There are extra travel costs here because we do not have road connections anywhere. Team travel in and out is by commercial airlines, at considerable cost.
We just wound up three weeks of the home season ---the Whalers won the last game yesterday over Sitka, after getting shut out by Delta Junction and Valdez.
Now they will go by air to other parts of Alaska to play several "road" games and scrimmages, before winding up the first season.
I had one personal thought as a planner. If it is possible for High School teams to play on our field on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, why not two NFL teams someday?
Maybe an exhibition game between the Seattle Seahawks (closest team to Barrow at several thousand air miles) and the Green Bay Packers ---who used to be good on "the frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field. Meanwhile, as winter soon sets in, we can all keep warm and play Electric Football till our short summer begins next year. Hey Hey!