High Schools

Stevens: N.C. State's Friday night game is blow to high school teams

tstevens@newsobserver.comAugust 28, 2012 

A wealthy man decided to hold a feast, but rather than sacrifice one lamb from his many flocks and herds, he took the only lamb of a poor man. The lamb was all he poor man had and it was precious to him, but the powerful man seized and butchered the lamb. Outrageous.

In the Biblical story, the prophet Nathan narrates the tale before leveling the charge at King David: “You are the man!”

In the world of North Carolina high school athletics, the rich man is Atlantic Coast Conference football. The lamb is a Friday night high school home football game.

N.C. State’s season opener against Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta will be a blow to high school football programs throughout the state.

Most high schools have five or six home football games a year and the proceeds from those games help fund the entire athletics program for the year. A good football gate might mean new uniforms for cross country, or perhaps refinishing the gym floor.

But a rainy game night, or a big, highly promoted televised college football game with a team from your area, might mean the old unis will have to last one more year.

Some high schools are responding to the kickoff game – and a holiday on Monday – by moving their games to Thursday night, a school night for their students.

Tuesday night basketball

Years ago, when East Carolina scheduled a televised football game on Friday, many high school officials reacted as if the Pirates had blasted a shot across the bow. The game was protested throughout the state and ECU recruiters were barred from some high school campuses.

The protests helped to limit the number of televised football games on Friday nights among local colleges for years, but Charlie Adams, then the executive director of the N.C. High School Athletic Association, suspected that protecting Friday nights would be impossible in the long run.

“It is a battle that we cannot win,” Adams once said.

Adams bore the scars from a previous war when high school athletics in North Carolina fought and lost a battle to save Tuesday night high school basketball revenue by asking the ACC not to televise basketball games on Tuesday night. There was cooperation for a while, but gradually more and more televised ACC games were played on Tuesdays.

Duke, N.C. State and North Carolina have scheduled eight basketball games for the nine Tuesday nights in January, February and March when high schools will be playing. Expect more empty bleachers in your local high school gym.

Making Money

The ACC generally has avoided playing on Friday night. Last year, the only Friday game was Boston College at Miami on Nov. 25. The only Friday game this year is this week.

State signed the contract three years ago, before Debbie Yow was named athletics director, and the school indicated a willingness to play the game on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. The game was expected to be played on Saturday or Thursday, but Auburn plays Clemson on Saturday and Georgia State plays South Carolina State in the Georgia Dome on Thursday.

N.C. State, Wake Forest, UNC and East Carolina have helped high school athletics by allowing state championships to be held on their campuses.

But that isn’t much of a sacrifice. It’s a shame that a bigger sacrifice must be made by a bunch of high school kids.

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Stevens: 919-829-8910

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