EDITORIAL: Return to Friday night football at William Penn is right move at right time
- There was a shooting outside of Small Field at the Bearcats' football opener in 2016.
- After that shooting, the Bearcats' remaining 2016 games were moved to Saturday afternoons.
- This season, William Penn football games are again scheduled to be played on Friday nights.
Ask folks about their fondest memories from high school, and the conversation will often veer toward Friday night football games.
The handful of home games each fall are about much more than just football in many smaller communities.
The cheerleaders and bands are pivotal parts of the show.
Parents come to watch their kids and also catch up with long-lost classmates.
Students, some of whom don’t really care much about football, come to socialize with friends and do some flirting.
In many ways, Friday night football can help bind a community.
Unfortunately, at William Penn Senior High School, Friday night football was taken away from the York City community last fall.
A well-publicized shooting occurred outside Small Field during the Bearcats’ home opener on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Two men were injured, while approximately 2,000 fans inside the stadium were placed on lockdown for about 20 minutes.
In the aftermath of the shootings, the York City school board opted to move the Bearcats’ remaining 2016 home games to Saturday afternoons. It was a security measure. It’s simply much easier to keep folks safe in the daylight.
At the time, it was the prudent move. There’s no doubt that many people would’ve been apprehensive about going to Small Field night games so soon after the shootings.
Still, it was a downright shame that the decision had to be made. A reprehensible criminal act had denied the community of a valuable community event.
The pageantry and atmosphere of Friday night football simply can’t be replicated on Saturday afternoon. Something gets lost in the translation. The crowds are smaller, and the cheers aren’t as loud.
On Friday nights, high school football is the only show in town. On Saturdays, college football offers formidable competition for attention.
That’s why the recent decision to have the Bearcats return to Friday night football this season is a welcome one.
Yes, there will still be security concerns. The school district must take every reasonable precaution to make sure there is not a repeat of last year’s incident.
Danger, however, can never be completely eliminated from any public event. That is just the nature of the times we live in.
At the same time, however, we must not allow the criminal element to dictate our social activities. If that happens, we lose something much more valuable.
Enough time has passed since last year's unfortunate incident. Now is the right time for William Penn to return to Friday night football. One fall of Saturday afternoon games was more than enough.
The players, coaches, cheerleaders, band members, parents and students deserve nothing less.
In fact, the city community, and even those outside of the city, should make it a point to show up in force for the 2017 home opener Friday, Sept. 1, against Reading to cheer on the Bearcats.
Don’t allow fear to keep you home.
A large, full-throated crowd is just what is needed to prove that the city and school district can safely hold major sporting events at night.
Then, a few decades from now, William Penn students will deservedly have their own fond memories of Friday night football.