Administrators appreciate the significance of Friday night football

Oct. 10, 2005, midnight | By Anna Coughlan | 15 years, 3 months ago

No games were changed following deadly school fights

In light of deadly violence at two high school football games last month, Montgomery County officials could have taken the brash action of moving the night events to the daytime. However, no dates have yet been changed and only one school changed the time of one game to an hour earlier on a Friday. Administrators should be commended for the calm and collected manner in which they reacted to these serious incidents. Changing the games from Friday night to Saturday during the day would have resulted in a significant drop in attendance because students are less likely to attend Saturday games.

After the two incidents, school principals had the option of changing game times as long as they could meet certain logistical requirements, such as coordinating referees, said MCPS spokesperson Brian Edwards. Only Springbrook rescheduled one match to begin an hour earlier, at 5:30 p.m. last Friday. At Blair, administrators called for more supervision at the competitions. "All we're doing is trying to beef up the security at our events," said Athletic Director Dale Miller.

Attendance at football games is crucial to funding athletic activities at Blair. All gate admission fees go into an athletic account that helps finance equipment, transportation, officials and lighting for sports teams throughout the year, according to baseball coach and health teacher John MacDonald. At the two football home games this season, ticket receipts brought in $4,683 and $3,389 respectively, according to the financial office. Student attendance dropped from 715 to 406 at the second game, and changing games to Saturday would reduce the turnout even more.

Results from an informal Blair poll conducted on Sept. 29 showed that an overwhelming number of students would be more likely to go to Friday night games than Saturday day games. Ninety students out of 100 surveyed said Friday night was a better time. Blazers are often busy on Saturday's and find it easier to stay after school than to come back the next day and prefer the Friday night atmosphere, according to the survey.

Changing dates would affect not only football players, but would also create a hardship for other Blazers. A number of Blair students, including cheerleaders, the poms squad and marching band members, are required to attend home competitions. "People have schedules," said cheerleader Ashley Smith. Many fans enjoy the convenience of Friday games because they can stay near the Blair grounds after school instead of going home and coming back. "Then, it doesn't eat into your day," said sophomore Mark Goodman.

The energetic and shadowy ambiance during Friday night events also appeals to some students. Friday games give Blazers a chance to begin the weekend chatting with friends and relieving stress while cheering on the team. The contrast of the bright lights that illuminate the field and the darkness that engulfs the neighboring practice fields and parking lots also heightens the atmosphere. Among Blazers surveyed, some called the night environment "cooler," more "mysterious" and exciting and enjoyable. Although violence could erupt in the dim areas around the stadium, the two fatalities were not related to the games and therefore could have occurred anywhere.

The grave incidents at recent high school games left many people desperate to prevent future violence. Yet blaming the outbreaks on the time of day would be a critical mistake. County principals made the right choice by cautiously adding more security instead of hurriedly changing the scheduling of games. Hopefully, the past episodes were anomalies rather than evidence of a growing trend that would force schools to take more drastic action.

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Anna Coughlan. Anna is a CAP junior who can't believe she's an upperclassman already. She likes to run Blair cross-country and track, do yoga, play soccer, and chill with fun-loving people. Anna is a big movie fan and loves the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Star … More »

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