In Florida and Texas, they don't need to wait for late October to enjoy Midnight Madness anymore. Now true sports fans can head to a high school field on an August night and watch the start of fall football practice.
The 2012 season may not be the first time that schools kick off summer preseason training camps at midnight, but schools in Texas and now, Florida, are rapidly adopting the midnight tradition as a way to add sizzle to the start of the grueling summer practice period.
As an illustration of the expanding phenomenon, the Tallahassee Democrat profiled two city schools who used the 12:01 kickoff to start their 2012 seasons. As they have in past campaigns, both Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln High and Tallahassee (Fla.) Chiles High started practice on Monday, August 6 at 12:01 a.m.
That meant preparing for practicing on a Sunday night, a sacrifice that the Chiles staff and players were apparently more than willing to make.
"We are excited," Chiles head football coach Mike Lassiter told the Democrat. "We have guys who are committed. And that's what we want. We want players who are sold out for our program and they stay for four years and graduate as Timberwolves."
Of course there is a minor benefit of the midnight practice for players involved, too. With the midnight practice counting a Monday practice, that means that teams in Florida can't possibly practice again until Tuesday because schools are limited to one practice per day.
In a practical sense, that's almost like giving players a day off after a long, exciting first day at the office. Not a bad perk for having to spend midnight to 2 or 3 a.m. at a practice field.
Whether or not the practice spreads nationwide remains to be seen. For now, at least two states are in on the action, with fans and athletes themselves getting a feel for football even earlier, if only by a few hours of daylight.