EDITORIAL: Don't give up Friday nights to criminals
- A shooting occurred outside of Small Field on Friday, Sept. 9, leaving two people wounded.
- That shooting cut short the McCaskey-at-William Penn football game in the fourth quarter.
- A week later, a threat forced the postponement of the York Suburban-at-Columbia game.
React, but don't overreact.
That's the simple mantra that local officials should follow in response to the recent criminal activities that marred a pair of Friday night high school football games in recent weeks.
Both incidents have been well publicized.
On Friday, Sept. 9, the J.P. McCaskey-at-William Penn game was cut short in the fourth quarter after a shooting in the Small Field parking lot sent two men to the hospital with wounds, while a teenage suspect remains at large.
Just seven days later, the York Suburban-at-Columbia contest was postponed just before game time because of a threat allegedly made by a Columbia student. That game was eventually moved to Saturday afternoon at York Suburban and went off without any incidents..
In each case, school and security officials appeared to react with proper prudence and due diligence.
At the William Penn game, the feuding troublemakers were forced to leave Small Field before their altercation unfortunately turned violent in the parking lot. Yes, two men were left hospitalized, but it could have been much worse if officials hadn't reacted quickly and escorted them out of the crowded stadium. A 20-minute stadium lockdown also helped prevent any further violence.
At Columbia, officials made the right call by postponing the game. Given the tragedies that have occurred in recent decades involving troubled high school students, you simply can't be too careful when threats are made.
Now comes the question of what to do next.
York City School District officials will make that call at Wednesday's board meeting. It appears as if the remaining four Bearcats home football games at Small Field this season will be moved from Friday night to noon on Saturday. In addition, some increased security measures will also likely be approved.
Both moves seem warranted.
It's obviously easier to keep fans safer in daylight than it is at night. After what happened on Sept. 9, there's little doubt that fans would likely feel a little trepidation about going to Small Field on Friday nights. That's only natural.
The move to Saturday day games and the increased security should help alleviate those fears for the rest of the 2016 season.
Let's hope, however, that Friday night football games will not permanently disappear from Small Field, or from any other high school stadium in York County.
There's no doubt that the crowds and environment at Friday night football games are an integral part of the high school experience. That kind of community atmosphere simply can't be replicated on a Saturday afternoon.
That's why, over the years, nearly every York County school has moved to holding Friday night games. York Tech is the only holdout.
After the two recent incidents, there have been some whispers that all Friday night football should be discontinued because of security concerns.
That would be a severe overreaction.
Two isolated criminal incidents instigated by some juvenile delinquents should not leave us cowering in our homes when the sun sets.
Instead, we should make every effort to make the Friday night games as secure as humanly possible, without making the stadiums feel like armed encampments.
Moving games to Saturday on a permanent basis would be a tacit admission that we can't protect ourselves against the criminal element. In that case, the criminals win the night and we lose our freedom.
We simply can't allow that to happen.