York Area Sports Night officials have decided it's time to make a change.
As a result, the 55th annual edition of the show will no longer be held in the heart of winter.
Instead, the 2019 program has been moved to early spring.
In addition, the first announced guest of this year’s show is trailblazing Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Guy.
Sports Night is now scheduled for Thursday, April 4, at Heritage Hills Golf Resort and Conference Center.
Previously, the show had typically been held in late January or early February. Last year’s show, for instance, was Feb. 8.
Weather issues: The reason for the switch is simple — weather.
“We talked about this at length,” Sports Night president Mike Harvey said. “We’ve had some issues with snow and ice, where some of our scheduled guests couldn’t make the show because of weather. So, we thought: ‘Why don’t we move the thing. Let’s give it a shot.’”
Harvey said the weather in York wasn’t the only issue. There could be decent weather in York, but guests sometimes still couldn’t make it because of poor weather elsewhere.
“If an airport in Chicago is closed, we still don’t get our guy, because he can’t get his flight,” Harvey said.
A different time: Harvey said when the show originally started in the 1960s, the period from late January to early February was a relatively dead time in sports, making it somewhat easier to attract pro athletes. The two big sports at the time were football and baseball. In late January and early February, football season was over and spring training hadn’t started yet.
That is no longer the case.
Financial issues: Harvey, who has been involved with Sports Night since the 1970s, said the show has struggled to attract quality celebrities in recent years because of its limited budget.
Several years back, that led the show to abandon the athletic demonstrations and celebrity discussions at area gymnasiums that had long been program staples.
"We can't afford that anymore, with the cost to rent the gym and the requirements for security and insurance," he said.
Instead, the show switched to an autograph and meet-and-greet format.
Harvey said drawing sponsors has also become an issue and that dealing with agents only adds to the headaches.
Still, the show continues and is now in its sixth decade.
"It's going to work out," Harvey said.
No other major changes planned: Other than the date shift, Harvey said there aren’t any significant changes planned for the show. The basic format will remain the same. Tickets are $80 in advance and $100 at the door, if available. Tickets are expected to go on sale next month.
The public celebrity reception will run from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. From 6:15 p.m. until 7:45 p.m., there will be an exclusive celebrity dinner with a live auction for celebrities, hosts, sponsors and guests.
Ray Guy: One of the guests for this year’s show will be Guy, who is the first pure punter to get elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Guy, who is now 69, punted for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL and was an All-American at Southern Mississippi. He was also the first pure punter ever to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft in 1973.
He was elected to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He was a six-time NFL All-Pro, a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time Super Bowl champ.
In his 13-year NFL career, Guy played in 207 consecutive games and punted 1,049 times for 44,493 yards, averaging 42.4 yards per punt, with a 33.8 net yards average. He led the NFL in punting three times.
In 2000, the Greater Augusta Sports Council instituted the Ray Guy Award, to be awarded to the nation's best collegiate punter.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com.