Saturday Morning Quarterback

High school football in daytime looks different
Sep 6, 2013

 

Catching some highlights of the Beech-Station Camp opener a couple of weeks ago and I was struck by how different it looked.

I've been to Station Camp for football games before. The first time, Lebanon faced the Bison on Senior Night in a downpour. Last year, Wilson Central won on a perfect night for football.

Those games were on Friday night, which goes with high school football like peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin and Siskel and Ebert.

But instead of Friday Night Lights, the Beech-Station Camp game was played on a sunny Sunday morning. Thousands of fans bypassed the ESPN2 telecast and Sunday school to get an up-close-and-personal look at Buccaneers' superback Jalen Hurd and the Bison's out-of-this-world wide receiver Josh Malone.

It was probably a good thing, too, as Hurd injured his shoulder during the game and will miss the rest of his senior season. He will next be seen wearing the Big Orange next year.

But even though I saw just a few video bites of the game, it was nice to see high school games played under God-provided light, which beats anything GE has invented. You could see beyond the bleachers and see the rest of the school, the surrounding neighborhood and the clouds in the sky. Just wish the timing of such games kept people from going to worship God at the church of their choice.

High school football wasn't always the province of Friday night. In another day and time, games were played after school. But to accommodate the growing popularity of the game, schools built lights around the fields and a tradition of Americana was born. Schools and their communities built much of their fall activities around the game, which became filled with marching bands and homecomings.

Colleges already had first dibs on Saturday. Pro football was trying to find its niche and Sunday was still respected as the Lord's Day. Eventually, the NFL found a home on the first day of the week, and later Monday night, Thanksgiving afternoon and Thursday night.

That left Friday night for high schools, which made for the perfect way to start a fall weekend.

But sometimes, football at night, even on Friday, isn't always so grand. At some places, the pageantry isn't that great, the crowds have found other things to do and the lightbulbs are badly in need of changing.

Pro and college games do well in the daytime and it's nice to, occasionally, see the high schools in the sunlight, not just the spotlight. I've heard a sportswriter often say every team ought to play at least one game a season in the daytime.

But the logistics are daunting. The NFL [except during preseason] and most colleges [except those who have sold out to ESPN] still largely respect high school's hold on Fridays. The preps would have little chance of competing head to head with colleges on Saturday afternoons and the Beech-Station Camp game was played before the pros resume their Sunday-afternoon stranglehold tomorrow.

I hope the trend of letting ESPN schedule games for Sunday morning doesn't last, or at least spreads no further than the elite teams and players.

Maybe we can invent a third day of a weekend or an eighth day to a week. Until then, we'll have to settle for high school games on Friday nights.

But that's worked pretty well for decades now.

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