ASK TOM WHY: What is your opinion of the “any thunder/any lightning” policy that mandates a recurring minimum 30-minute suspension of outdoor sports activity?

Dear Tom,

What is your opinion of the “any thunder/any lightning” policy that mandates a recurring minimum 30-minute suspension of outdoor sports activity? As a sports official, I have observed many adult spectators express irritation when I suspend play for distant lightning and rumblings of thunder.

Tom Severin

Dear Tom,

It’s an unfortunate reality: Lightning safety is very inconvenient. Thunder is a by-product of lightning and if thunder is heard, lighting is also present (though it may be difficult to see in daylight). Brian Bennett, a principal author of the NCAA’s official lightning safety rules, says all outdoor activities should cease immediately when thunder is heard or lightning is seen, and should not resume until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder or flash of lightning.