New York’s cold-weather Super Bowl will affect physics of the game

MetLife Stadium Super Bowl XLVIII
Snow or not, MetLife Stadium will be cold on Super Bowl Sunday.
Credit: Getty Images

A cold-weather Super Bowl will mean erratic throws from quarterbacks, more slipping and sliding and will even impact how players hear things on the field.

By the time the Super Bowl kicks off Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, the weather pattern for the evening will be dissected every way imaginable. But while it will be cold and uncomfortable in what will likely be the coldest ever Super Bowl, the impact is much more than long johns for fans and gloves for the quarterbacks. The weather and the cold will have a direct impact on the game, even if it isn’t snowing.

Dr. Eric Goff, professor of physics at Lynchburg College and the author of “Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports” said cold weather and not just possible snow could impact how the game is played. He said with a Miami Super Bowl likely registering a temperature of 75 degrees and a north Jersey game in the mid-30s, there will be an impact in air drag which will affect the game.

“Because air density is inversely proportional to temperature – you must measure temperature in kelvin for this calculation – quarterbacks and kickers will face about 8 percent more air drag in East Rutherford, [N.J.] compared to Miami. Peyton Manning plays in Denver, which had lower air density than at sea level where the Super Bowl will be played,” Goff said. “On paper, Manning might be affected by more air drag than a quarterback who plays at sea level, but, in reality, Manning has been in the league long enough and played at sea level plenty of times that he should be able to adapt. Still, he’ll have to adapt.”

In addition, the lower humidity likely to be in play on Sunday will lead to an increase in air drag, but Goff said “the effect is not nearly as large as the effect from temperature change.”

There will also be a drop in elasticity due to the cold temperatures, with the physics of sports coming into play. The turf will be harder and not as spongy and the ball when it bounces won’t bounce as high. Something like this could impact a directional punt where a team tries to pin an opponent deep in their own end.

This cold, harder-than-usual turf could also impact players and their balance, creating more slips than usual.

“In general, the friction coefficient associated with shoes and turf goes down as the temperature goes down. That means there is greater chance of sliding in the cold than on a warm field in Miami,” Goff said. “Some studies show as much as 10 to 12 percent reduction in friction coefficient, which is a reasonable reduction when comparing Miami to East Rutherford. I can’t be more specific without knowing exactly what shoe type players will wear. Shoe science, as you might imagine, advances fairly rapidly. Trainers will have specific shoes in mind, along with specific stud type and length.”

But it is trickier than just air drag or a hard field creating tricky steps for players. The cold could have an impact on how things are communicated on the field and could keep the crowd out of it.

The already chaotic scene of a football field with players moving quickly before the snap and shouting amidst the background of crowd noise could be harder to do. This is especially noticeable when stacked against a warmer locale, such as a Super Bowl in Arizona or Florida.

“There will be an almost 4 percent drop in sound speed in the cold. That effect is hard to notice, but easier to notice will be the cold fans,” Goff said. “They won’t move as fast as in warm weather. If they do the wave, it’ll likely move a little slower than it would in Miami.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.