The reality of truth
I know what's coming, and it's not going to be pretty.
Eighteen area high school football teams made the playoffs, which start this weekend. Sixteen of them decided to play their first-round game on Saturday. One area school (Ridgeview) picked Friday and one other school (Urbana) is presently undecided between a Friday and Saturday game, though the latter appears most likely.
Lets make sure we're clear on this: After nine consecutive weeks of playing under the Friday Night lights, area teams are forsaking that to start the playoffs.
Rather than stay with the tried-and-true method and play on a night when there are able-bodied reporters to cover games and ample space in the newspaper to give schools the recognition they deserve, they would prefer to play on Saturday when they can go head-to-head for newsprint with the UI football homecoming, an Illini men's basketball preseason game and sectional cross-country..
In what realm does this make sense? Are there going to be larger crowds for a Friday night game or for one on Saturday when sports fans have many, many more options? I can guarantee that we can't just take a few pages from the Saturday sports section and hold them for Sunday. That's not the way it works.
The way it works, is hardly any of the Saturday games will get covered in person and, beyond that, several will probably only get a few sentences of coverage the day after their game.
What a shame. The kids deserve better. If any coach truly believes by having an extra day of practice for that first playoff game it will make the difference between winning and losing, they are misguided. If a team is good enough to win on Saturday, then that team was also good enough to win on Friday.
Too bad they won't get the chance.