The details are still being finalized, but it appears that Friday night lights in 2020 can be seen live at home.
Amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Interscholastic League — the state’s governing body of public high school athletics — is finalizing plans and procedures to allow high school football games on Friday nights to be shown live in the fall, and area coaches are all for the idea.
On Wednesday, Temple athletic director and head football coach Scott Stewart tweeted, “Our plan is definitely to broadcast. We have to figure out what that looks like. Details will come out when we get them ironed out.”
The big issue for area coaches is how to make it happen.
Belton athletic director Sam Skidmore said his school district is considering streaming games and plans to look at several options, including a pay service from a third-party provider and possible student-led in-house broadcasting, if the technology department feels it can be done.
“We realize that even at 100 percent capacity, there may be some grandparents and others who may still not feel comfortable attending,” Skidmore said.
Salado head coach Alan Haire shared the same sentiment.
“I think anything you can do to make it easier for individuals to watch that don’t feel comfortable, you do it,” he said. “No protocols have been laid out, but there will be some grandparents and parents who don’t feel comfortable. So you do what you can to help them witness their children and grandchildren’s athletic careers. These are years you don’t get back.”
While Haire figures there may be new guidelines in place, he fully expects athletic events to resume as normal in the fall.
“The education commissioner, Mike Morath, said students will be in school,” Haire said. “I can’t see us being in school and not participating in athletic events. You are putting sometimes 30 students in a classroom. The confinement will be smaller than our gym, so I assume athletic events will resume as well.”
Although most athletic directors and coaches seem to be on board with the idea of live video, smaller schools may have issues providing the service.
“Honestly, if it’s up to us, we don’t have the manpower,” Troy athletic director Ronnie Porter said. “It would have to be someone outside the school.”
Several area schools, including Troy, have audio broadcasts of their games on the internet through Schoolboys Sports and may turn to that provider to expand the coverage to video as well.
“We are in the process of looking into what would be best for AISD,” Academy athletic director Jared Hunt said. “In the coming weeks, I will be contacting Schoolboy Sports radio to discuss with them different options. They do an amazing job for us, so we will work together to see what would be best for everyone involved.”
Ricky Crow, founder of Schoolboy Sports, said his service hasn’t yet had a chance to look at everything involved.
Gov. Greg Abbott has already warned that NCAA football games might be played in stadiums at half of their capacity when they resume. Live video may be a necessity for many teams if that holds true for high schools as well, especially in rivalry games such as Temple vs. Belton and Cameron Yoe vs. Rockdale.
At the moment, it appears area coaches are not developing plans for reduced capacity, noting the situation in Texas is fluid and changes day to day.
“We’ve thought about plans,” Skidmore said. “But things can change so fast, so you plan and things change. We started our strength and conditioning program and two days into it, UIL changed things. So we are waiting until we get further guidelines before we begin planning.”