Like any number of states, North Carolina is entering the third week of the state's football season. Week 3 will mark 1/5th of the season gone, even for playoff teams. Amazingly, soccer and volleyball teams are even further along.
None of those factors would be particularly surprising if it weren't for one major issue: School in North Carolina hasn't even started yet.
As reported by the News & Observer, schools in North Carolina didn't open their doors until Aug. 27. By that point, many schools had played as many as seven volleyball matches and five soccer matches. Most stunningly, the Cleveland (N.C.) High girls tennis team had already completed 30 percent of the season schedule by the time the school's doors opened for the first time.
According to the News & Observer's Clay Best, the start dates are set by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, working backward from the spring sports so that all their seasons will end by the time school is let out for summer. Because some time is needed between each season for those who play multiple sports, the start time for fall sports has to offer up enough of one of those gaps between athletic endeavors.
The result in the 2012-13 school year was a fall sports campaign that included three games before the school year even opened. As one might expect, that creates the rather unique scenario of school sports not involving school, strictly speaking. Fall training practices have always begun in North Carolina (and most other states) before the start of August.
Yet practices aren't games, and the real competition never really felt appropriate until after school bells were ringing … until now.