Over the past week, areas in Northern California have been devastated by a series of wildfires, destroying 3,500 buildings and over 50,000 acres of land. At least 24 people have been killed and around 285 are still missing.
With all of that going on, it seems silly to talk about how a natural disaster of this caliber will affect a football game, but the effects of the fire are far-reaching and are also worth reporting on.
The Oakland Raiders had to adjust their practice schedule for this week because of wind-blown smoke from the wildfires reaching the Bay Area, which has affected the air quality in the region and could be dangerous for the players. Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal noted that the air quality today is actually worse than it was yesterday. Ash has been seen falling from the sky as well.
If the situation isn’t improved by Sunday, the Raiders home game against the Los Angeles Chargers could be in jeopardy. Neither team nor the NFL has publicly commented on such a scenario.
The league has already had to deal with moving a game because of natural occurrences this season. The week 1 matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins had to be postponed due to the effects of Hurricane Irma. Since both teams are in Florida, the game obviously couldn’t be moved, but luckily the Bucs and Dolphins were each on the same bye week, so they’ll face off then.
The Raiders and Chargers don’t have that luxury, but they will play each other twice this season, being in the same division and all. Los Angeles has not been affected by the wildfires as of now, so the easiest solution would be to swap home games, with the Chargers hosting this week and the Raiders getting the nod during the rematch in week 17.
It’s unfortunate that tragic circumstances have spilled over into football, but sports can often serve as an outlet away from the numerous bad things happening in the world. If you would like to donate your time or money to help the victims of the wildfires, check out this Huffington Post article detailing all the ways you can chip in.