I want to start by saying that there’s nothing like the “Friday Night Lights.” As a former player, there’s something special about that Friday night game against a big rival. And after going to 8 games this year, you remember that “magic” of playing in front of your friends and family.
But there’s a trend in high school football that’s beginning to taint that special atmosphere. To put it simply, it’s the media.
It’s a trend that’s really exploded since Tim Tebow signed with Florida in 2005. Before that, you really didn’t hear much about players signing with colleges. But the day Tebow signed was the first time ESPN did a full day of coverage for National Signing Day.
That began a trend, that in my opinion, tainted the high school game. Let me explain.
High school games began to be televised on national tv. Teams began to play opponents that required one team to either drive 6+ hours or fly to their opponent. Recently, a team from New Jersey played John Curtis in Louisiana. A team from Florida had to travel to Virginia. Miami Central High School traveled to Hoover, Alabama.
This takes out nearly all the atmosphere of the game. Teams that travel in usually don’t have fans there because they can’t afford to travel that far on short notice.
Really, this post was inspired from this past Thursday. I went to the Ouachita Parish High School vs Ruston High School game in Ruston. The game was on Thursday because it was televised.
It was incredibly annoying to experience that game. There were times a team would get momentum from a turnover, and the game would have to go to commercial. So essentially, a lot of the momentum was lost because of tv. Sure, the game ended up being incredible due to a 17 point unanswered comeback from Ruston in the second half. But I felt bad for the players. They had to deal with the pressure of playing on tv against one of their biggest rivals.
Friday nights are meant to be played in front of family and friends, not a national audience who doesn’t know/care who some kids are. They’re meant for the kids who love playing the game, even if they know they may not play on Saturdays. Friday nights are for the small towns that wouldn’t even be on the map if it wasn’t for their beloved team.
So stop tainting the game ESPN. Let kids be kids for a little while longer and not have to worry about what a nation thinks of them.