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Rainout, washout, rain delay, and rain stopped play are terms regarding an event, generally a sporting event, delayed or cancelled due to rain, or the threat of rain.

On television, in event of a rain delay, most broadcasters run alternate programming, in place of the scheduled game or event. Depending on event, the alternate programming takes many forms, such as a movie, a rerun of a television program, interviews and analysis, highlights of the last event, or even another game. The delay continues until the weather is cleared up enough to resume the game, or if it comes to a point where it is not practical to resume it; in this case, it would become a "rain out".

In some cases, if the rain delay is in danger of interfering with the network's schedule that would follow after the game, they would often transfer coverage of the game to another station or channel, or show it later on via tape delay, depending on the league or organisation's policy.

Delays of the event due to other forms of weather other than rain are named appropriately, such as "snow delay", "thunderstorm delay", "fog delay", etc.

In North America, the only one of the four major sports to stop play due to rain is baseball. Football plays through all types of weather except lightning and hurricanes (the former being more in concern to the safety of the fans sitting upon metal seating and the players), while basketball and hockey play indoors, although those sports have seen event cancellations or delays due to moisture on a basketball court making safe play impossible, or a malfunction in the rink ice system of an arena causing indoor fog, along with external factors such as snowstorms or flooding preventing safe access to venues. There have also been stoppages in auto racing events like the Indianapolis 500 due to rain.

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Baseball

When the weather threatens to rain out a baseball game, the groundskeepers cover the infield with a tarp to protect it from damage.

Generally, Major League Baseball teams will continue play in light to moderate rain but will suspend play if it is raining heavily or if there is standing water on the field. Games can also be delayed or canceled for other forms of inclement weather, or if the field is found to be unfit for play, and for other unusual causes such as bees. Bee delays and cancellations have occurred in games such as the spring training game in 2005 that was canceled, as well as the 2009 Astros-Padres game that was delayed in the ninth inning. However, rain is by far the most common cause for cancellations or stoppages of play.

Before a baseball game commences, unless it is the second game of a doubleheader, the manager of the home team is in charge of deciding whether or not the game should be delayed or canceled due to rain or other inclement weather (see Rule 3.10 of baseball's Official Rules). Once the home team manager hands his lineup card to the umpire shortly before the game is to begin, the umpire-in-chief has sole discretion to decide if a game should be delayed or canceled (see Rule 3.10 and Rule 4.01 of the Official Rules). This also applies to the second game of a doubleheader. Umpires are required by rule to wait at least 30 minutes to see if conditions improve; this is referred to as a rain delay and is not counted as part of the length of the game listed in the box score. In practice, umpires are encouraged to see that games are played if at all possible, and will sometimes wait as long as three hours before declaring a rainout.

If a game is rained out before play begins, it is rescheduled for a later date. If it has already begun and rain falls, several scenarios are used to determine the need to resume play:

  • If the game has completed the top half of the 5th inning and the home team is ahead, the game can be deemed an official game. The home team is declared the winner, and the game officially counts in standings.
  • If the game has completed the bottom half of the 5th inning and either team is ahead, the game can be deemed an official game. The leading team is declared the winner, and the game officially counts in standings.
  • If the game has completed the 5th inning, and the teams are tied, or if the game is a playoff game, the game is considered suspended, and the resumption of the game is scheduled for a future date (usually the following day). The game picks up from where it left off.
  • If neither of the previous three scenarios apply, the game can not be deemed official. The umpire declares "No Game," and a make-up of the game is scheduled for a future date. The statistics compiled during the rained out game are not counted.

Motorsport

Some auto racing series do not compete in rain, especially series that race on paved oval tracks. The rain severely diminishes the traction between the slick tires and the racing surface. Other series, especially those that race on road courses such as Formula One, use special treaded rain tires while the racing surface is wet. Dirt track racing can be run in a light rain as the vehicles have treaded tires. Rallying can be held in rain or snow.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the IRL IndyCar Series do not compete on a wet or moist surface at most oval tracks. They will not start an event unless the surface is dry. If the surface become wet during a race, the event is typically halted, and the cars are pulled off the track. Very light moisture may warrant only a temporary yellow caution period, while heavier rains usually require a red flag, stopped condition.

After the rain ceases, the sanctioning body will determine if the track surface can be dried within a reasonable time frame. The track is considered "lost" if rain thoroughly wets the surface, usually characterized by a dark look to the asphalt or concrete pavement. Track crews use "jet dryers," which consist of modified jet engines, mounted upsidedown to allow the hot exhaust to pummel the surface. The hot exhaust acts to quickly evaporate the rainwater, and allow the surface to dry considerably quicker than normal conditions. Large scale wet-vacs are also sometimes used to supplement.

If rain does not subside, the sanctioning body has several options. Typically, the race is considered "official" if at least half of the advertised distance (in some cases half plus 1 lap) has been completed. If such is the case, the race is deemed complete, and the winner is determined. In some cases, if the race has already gone beyond the halfway point (especially if it is very near the scheduled finish) when rain falls, and the weather forecast is for day-long rain, no attempt to complete the remainder of the race will be attempted.

If fewer than half the laps are completed or if the race is unable to start, the event is resumed on a later date, usually the next day. With the introduction of lights at numerous oval tracks, the time frame for resuming a rain delayed race on the same day has been largely expanded. Some races stopped during the day for rain have seen the track dried, and the race completed later in the evening on the same day.

The IndyCar Series will use rain tires if they are at a road course. The Sprint Cup Series has experimented with rain tires, but does not currently use them.

Other sports

Other sports typically stopped due to the onset of rain include tennis and cricket, where damp conditions seriously affect playing quality and the players' safety. In the case of tennis, several venues (such as those of Wimbledon and the Australian Open) have built retractable roofs atop of their existing courts and stadiums in the last decade to avert rain delays that could push a tournament further than the final date.

Association football generally plays on through rain, although matches can be abandoned if the pitch becomes severely waterlogged or there is lightning in the area, with the latter case being more for the protection of spectators within the metal stands surrounding stadiums. If there is severe rain during a match, it can become a point of controversy whether a match should be abandoned. A notable example of this was on the final day of the Serie A 1999-00 season, when Juventus had to play out a match against Perugia despite the pitch appearing to be unplayable. Juventus lost the match 1-0 and consequently lost the Scudetto to Lazio.[1]

References

  1. ^ Hughes, Rob. Juventus Loses Crown in Perugia After Sudden Storm and Long Delay : Lazio Wins League In a Bizarre Finale, International Herald Tribune, May 15, 2000.
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