STROHECKER: Playing Friday night in rain was right call in high school football
Some of the games may not have been easy to watch.
And in a lot of cases, there weren't a whole lot of eyeballs in the stands to watch them.
But that hardly means the decision to play the majority of this past Friday night's high school football games was the wrong one. Actually, in my opinion, it was the right move.
With the early effects of Hurricane Joaquin storming up the East Coast in the days leading up to Friday night, there were heavy discussions about how to handle the high school football slate. Those discussions ranged anywhere from playing them as scheduled, to moving up kickoff an hour or two, to moving the games to Saturday, or even Monday.
Last week, Susquehannock athletic director Chuck Abbott told The York Dispatch that the decision on when to play was up to the individual schools. Abbott also serves as the executive director of the York-Adams League.
In the end, most of the teams in the Y-A League chose to play at 7 Friday night, with only a few moving up kickoff by an hour, while a couple more played Saturday (one of which was always scheduled for Saturday) and one now slated for Monday. Those decisions were good for a few reasons.
Conditions weren't horrible: The first being that, in the grand scheme of things, Friday night's conditions weren't really all that bad. Sure, I can say that while I took in the Red Lion-vs.-Northeastern game from the comforts of a heated press box, out of the rain coming down sideways and the wind whipping around. But, at the same time, had there not been any build up to the possible storm hitting, Friday night really would've just been another rainy night, at least in Manchester.
Did the conditions make some of the games an eyesore and drastically alter the game plans? Certainly. At the same time, however, there wasn't anything crazy about Friday night's conditions, either. In fact, after the Bobcats edged the Lions, 14-13, despite only recording 75 yards of offense, senior linebacker Gary Gobernik's feelings about the weather were a bit on the shocking side.
"We were excited for this. We loved (the weather). Especially the defense," he said after Friday's game.
No bother waiting: Secondly, with the way the forecast looked going into Saturday, there wasn't really any reason to wait to play games on Saturday.
The forecast for both days called for rain and heavy winds, so it's not like there was a sure shot to avoid the conditions by waiting it out some 18 hours. In fact, by playing Saturday, there's a chance that field conditions would've been even worse, since there was extra time for the fields to become even more saturated.
Safety of athletes: Lastly, but probably most importantly, was the safety of the athletes.
When dealing with a situation like this, that is always in the forefront when trying to come to a decision on when to play. With sloppy fields, you automatically increase the possibility of injury because of compromised playing surfaces. It's not uncommon to see a player slip when trying to change directions and ending up pulling or tearing a muscle. Or, there's the chance of a player's foot getting caught in the soggy ground, resulting in a break of a bone or a ligament tear.
But then there's also the potential health and safety risks that come with playing two games in four days, which would've been the case had all games been moved to Monday. In a physical sport such as football, playing two games in that short of a span is a no-no, especially when dealing with teenagers. We see on a weekly basis how much the product suffers when two NFL teams play on a Thursday night, but rarely do we think about the health factors of the quick turnaround.
"I don't like going on Monday," Abbott said last week. "I just don't think that's good for the kids to have to play two games within four days. At this level, I'm not a fan of that."
Neither am I. Fortunately, the weather wasn't disastrous and we didn't have to worry about a full Monday slate of games.
So, sure the product may have suffered a little on the field, but from what I can tell, nothing else was put in jeopardy by playing on Friday night.
That will always go down as a win in my book.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker