Nine months after we first had ugly weather rear its head, it has returned.

The catastrophe that was Tropical Storm Irene has left thousands, still, without power and messed with many others this week.

The sports programs serve as respite for those kids and adults who yearn for simple things like a hot shower, or a cell-phone charge. I know first hand, we take electricity far too much for granted.

And despite the fact that teams have gone back to practice, Irene has completely messed up the fall sports season.

The CIAC has acted, declaring the 14-practice rule still in effect for sports. If you're unfamiliar with the ordinance, it declares that teams must complete 14 practices prior to playing their first games.

Schools like Fairfield Prep have been unable to practice because the buildings are closed. Because Prep draws kids from all parts of southern Connecticut, travel becomes an issue and therefore practice is out.

It's the same story as in the winter when snow closes the schools, and the danger of kids being hurt traveling to practice and slick roads prohibits workouts. No liability of kids skidding on black ice. It has been perfect-- weatherwise-- every day since the storm passed.

Lest we forget, other schools upstate still don't have power. Or places like Weston or New Canaan where 70-plus percent of homes still don't have electricity. I'm sure the public schools there can have practices when there is no school, or since school hasn't started yet, but any delay to the year leaves coaches needing to play catch up.

Each of the coaches I've spoken with this week have handled the practice cancellations well. Warde's field hockey went in triple sessions on Monday because Saturday and Sunday washed out tryouts.

Head coach Jodie Shannon didn't have to make any cuts, but when a team like hers has freshmen expected to contribute, every day of practice time missed is one more lesson that could be taught or one more drill that could be run.

The season is fast approaching, and granted, there is still all next week to train and prepare for the season ahead. It isn't like a washed out first weekend of the year is going to cost any teams a trip to the states or a conference championship.

But most coaches are bizarrely superstitious, and getting off to a good start is important. The first day of practice is important, that leads to the first game, which leads to the first playoff game, etc. Because the first day of practice was messed up, it throws the whole routine off.

The argument could be used statewide, meaning there is no clear advantage right now. But one more hurdle to jump lends itself to veteran-laden squads that can ignore distractions.

The school year is off to an inauspicious beginning. Here's hoping the weather isn't a factor from September through June.

We had enough of that last year.

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