Many have complained about how TV schedules have altered the landscape of college football scheduling, shifting small conference games to odd nights like Tuesdays and Wednesdays and forcing some BCS conference powers to play late on Thursday nights.
A similar effect is being felt may hit prep sports more keenly in the coming season, if a game at a Southern California football festival in early September is any indication. The difference is that odd timed high school games may be the byproduct of jam scheduled, super-hyped prep football events which attempt to draw in as many fans as possible.
According to the Los Angeles Times, perennial SoCal powerhouse Westlake (Calif.) Oaks Christian High will face off against Bellevue (Wash.) High as the headlining game in the Mission Viejo High School Football Classic, which will be played on the campus of the Southern California school.
That game is certainly an enticing matchup, but it's going to be held at a heck of a late time: An 8:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, September 3. Given the typical length of high school football games, players like Oaks Christian running back Mitchell Shelby, who is pictured above, may barely be able to fit in a postgame shower if they have to make it home before a midnight curfew.
"I'm going to take a nap," Oaks Christian defensive coordinator Mark Bates told the Times when asked how he planned to get ready for the game. Prep Rally, for one, can't blame him.
The question is whether starting a game so late -- that's an 11:30 kickoff on the East Coast if the early season event gets picked up for syndication on some sort of cable sports broadcast (an outside possibility) -- is either a good idea, or even necessary. The Mission Viejo Football Classic is hosting six games, two on Friday, Sep. 2 and three Sep. 3. The slate of matchups includes teams from California, Washington and Utah.
Yet, to host the four games on Saturday, Mission Viejo opted to shift one of the starts almost perversely late rather than kick off a game before noon. While that might not be in the best interest of some of the players, it probably will be for gate receipts, particularly by including Oaks Christian, a nearby school which typically brings plenty of fans and attention with it.
Was the decision to kick off so late the right one? That's certainly a call that's up for debate. Clearly, it's just another sign of the times in which we live, when prep sports make scheduling decisions based as much on business decisions as the welfare of some of the student athletes competing in the events themselves.