NFHS URGES STATES TO SAVE FRIDAY NIGHTS FOR HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
The NFHS membership, composed of state high school associations in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, has adopted the following resolution:
“Be it RESOLVED that every Friday night during the fall in America is ‘High School Football Night.’
“Be it FURTHER RESOLVED that college and professional football teams should refrain from scheduling contests on Friday nights. Such restraint would be an investment in their own future success. It would also demonstrate that high school football has value well beyond the field of play. Schools, communities and scholastic teams for girls and boys all benefit when football is strong.
“THEREFORE, the National Federation of State High School Associations urges all parties to observe the central premise of this resolution.”
Although some major college football games have been played on Friday nights for about 20 years, the numbers continue to increase. This year, more than 50 major college football games will be played on Friday nights, including eight on September 1 – the Friday night before Labor Day weekend. Most recently, the Big Ten Conference joined a growing number of conferences that has scheduled a handful of games on Friday nights.
“The value of tradition cannot be overstated,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “Friday nights offer communities a traditional time and place to congregate and support their students. If a major college football game was scheduled in the area on a Friday night, it could affect attendance at the high school game or cause the game to be moved to another day. In addition, many of the Friday night college games are televised, which could result in lower attendance at high school contests nationwide.
“We believe retaining Friday nights for high school contests is a plus for colleges as well because they reap the benefits of healthy programs at the high school level.”
Part of the Big Ten's decision to play on Friday nights is because of its new TV deal with ESPN and FOX. Not everyone connected with high school football in Big Ten country is in favor of the idea, however. That list includes the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which said it disappointed in the Big Ten's decision. Earlier this spring, the OHSAA decided to play all of its playoff games on Friday nights to avoid competition with college football.
The outcry from high school athletic associations won't stop the Big Ten from honoring its commitment to play six Friday night games per season over the next six years, but it has had an impact. Ohio State has said it will only schedule one Friday night home game every three years, and that will occur only during the university's fall break in October. The Buckeyes, however, could be scheduled for Friday night road games. Michigan will not play any Friday night games out of respect for high school football, while Penn State has said it will not play any Friday night home contests.
Big Ten officials have promised to release their Friday night schedules at least 10 months in advance each season.
“The Big Ten Conference appreciates the significance of high school football within the region and has worked to minimize the impact of this initiative by limiting the number of Friday night games,” said a conference news release last Fall.