MHSAA Opposes Big Ten Football on Fridays

EAST LANSING — The Big Ten Conference announced last week that it will play and televise football games on Friday nights beginning with the 2017 season.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association said that it was “disappointed and disheartened” by the decision, hoping to keep the Friday night tradition of high school football.

“We sometimes say that sports is the front porch of the school and Friday night football has been the front porch of a lot of our schools across the state,” MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts said.

The Big Ten called the MHSAA with the information that six football games will be played on six Fridays next year.

“The decision had been made to enter into Friday night telecasts of football games,” Roberts said. “They didn’t ask for our input. They knew what it would be. They knew we wouldn’t like it.”

The University of Michigan said that it won’t participate, a move appreciated by the MHSAA. However, Roberts has his doubts on if Michigan will be able to avoid playing on Friday nights.

“The question is, ‘Will Michigan really be able to say no?’” Roberts said. “If the league tells them and the network tells them, the contracts tell them they have to play, I’m not sure they’re going to be able to say no.”

Michigan State has hosted five Friday night games since 2011, all on Labor Day weekend. The program tweeted that it has agreed to host one Friday night home game per year provided it is over Labor Day weekend.

“Michigan State didn’t schedule games on Friday night of Labor Day weekend until they saw our high schools already moving to Thursday night. They were very considerate of their move to Friday night,” Roberts said. “They did not want to do something that would damage the high schools of this state.”

If the college and high school football games were to be played on the same Friday in Michigan, the MHSAA would consider changing game days during that week.

“On those occasions, I think many of our schools will look at alternative scheduling,” Roberts said. “Probably preferring Thursday night over a Saturday when they’re up against a lot of college games.”

The Big Ten plans to broadcast its Friday night games six weeks per year for the next six seasons, starting in 2017.

Categories: Football