The Michigan High School Athletic Association was one of the first to oppose the Big Ten Conference’s decision to play Friday night football games. Many high schools around Michigan are upset that the Big Ten will be taking away from their games.
Beginning in 2017, the Big Ten Conference will have teams play on Friday nights. It will start with six Friday night games.
According to the Michigan high school athletic association, this could hurt attendance at high school games and will take away from high school football as a whole.
Greg Lattig, athletic director at Mason High School, said “At a high school perspective, college football has been usually played on Saturday nights. If Friday night games are played, it could be a competition for local communities that would impact budgets, crowds and overall experience. We’re hoping to keep our brand special on Friday nights in our community.”
According to the Northwest Signal newspaper in Napolean, Ohio, high school football coaches’ associations there, in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin stand with Michigan coaches in opposing the decision.
At East Lansing High School, assistant football coach R.J. Williamson said “Our team works really hard in order to have a successful season. Our stands are usually packed with the players’ family and friends. I’m a relatively young coach, and I was playing safety for Michigan State just a year ago. I know what it takes to make it to a Big Ten team.”
Williamson said, “If these big teams begin to play games on Friday nights, high school football will be overlooked. Less people will come to our games, recruiters won’t be able to pay visits, players won’t be able to visit colleges, and the revenue we make on a single Friday night will decrease.”
Isaiah Lewis, a former safety for Michigan State, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers said, “It’s not really fair because high school teams are scheduled to play on one day, which is Friday. Big-time colleges play throughout the weekend and I think it’s only fair for high school teams to get their exposure. Coaches recruiting high school players go to their schools to see them play, but if their team has a game on a Friday night, that coach won’t even be able to go see the high school players.”
Lewis, who is from Indiana, said, “Although my high school is known for producing great athletes, without a recruiter coming from Michigan State, I would have never made it. If I was in high school now I would be mad because Big Ten Friday night games could ruin their futures. It will be hard to make it to the collegiate level if recruiters can’t make it to their games. At my high school, we made tons of money for our school on Friday nights. If high schools games bring out smaller crowds, that would hurt the school as well as the players’ self-esteem. They won’t feel important and they might feel like their hard work is all for nothing.”
Nate Schafer, owner of 3D Athletes workout facility in Lansing, Michigan trains high school students from all over Michigan during the winter and summer. The most recent team he has trained is DeWitt High School football. Schafer said, “These kids work really hard. I don’t think it’s fair to these athletes who are trying to make it to get a free education and a chance to make it professionally. They deserve to be looked at by recruiters. Aside from all the business, these kids should be able to have a special night to themselves since people really forget about high school football.”
Josh Butler, sophomore cornerback on Michigan State’s football team said, “As a current player on the team, I know I worked hard to get to Michigan State. Every day in high school I was playing hard to try to get noticed by recruiters. I think it would be a shame if high schoolers now didn’t get a chance to be looked at because the coaches had a Friday night game. If Michigan State has to play a Friday night game this upcoming season, I will obviously do my best, but still feel bad knowing I could be crushing someone else’s dreams.”