It takes only one word to describe the reaction of many, if not most, high schools around the area and across the state to the Big Ten’s decision to begin playing Friday night games.
The word is “disappointed.”
Ohio High School Athletic Association spokesman Tim Stried used that word when the Big Ten first announced its plans for six televised games beginning next season.
He is not alone.
“I’m disappointed they would do that. I never thought we’d have to deal with that situation,” Elida High School athletic director Dave Evans said.
Leipsic athletic director Gary Kreinbrink’s reaction also started with “disappointed.”
The Big Ten has announced its 2017 Friday night schedule and it does not include an Ohio State game. OSU athletic director Gene Smith has said that he is willing to play Friday night games in the future, though. And that is where some high school athletic directors see possible trouble ahead.
“I’m certain if Ohio State plays [on Friday] that’s going to affect us. I’m definitely worried about nights when it’s cold or a little bit rainy, maybe not for our home games but trips on the road where people would just stay home and watch Ohio State,” Kreinbrink said.
“Ohio State is more popular than about anything for people in this part of the country,” he added.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has said the Big Ten reached out to state high school athletic association before its announcement, but Kreinbrink, a member of the OHSAA’s Northwest District Athletic Board, said he was surprised.
“I was surprised that it came about because I had not heard anything about this being a possibility. I’m certain, though, that members of the Northwest District Athletic Board and the OHSAA office are not in favor of this,” he said.
Evans said: “It will be interesting. I had not heard about it until last week when I saw the news.
“I don’t know how much it will affect us. I think our fans here we have a great following and I think they’re true high school fans so I don’t know it will affect us a whole lot. But I’m disappointed they’re taking away from the kids.
“Even when there were some tough years before I got here our crowds were still pretty good. People came out to support the kids and football. I don’t see it affecting us a whole lot, but I’m still disappointed that’s where they went with that.”
The Big Ten’s 2017 Friday night games are: Sept. 1, Washington at Rutgers and Utah State at Wisconsin; Sept. 8, Ohio University at Purdue; Sept. 29, Nebraska at Illinois; Oct. 13, Northwestern at Maryland and Oct. 27, Michigan State at Northwestern.
As long as Ohio State is not involved and maybe even if it is, Lima Senior athletic director John Zell says he doesn’t think six Big Ten Friday night games will have a huge effect on high school attendance.
“I don’t really have an opinion, but if you’re a high school football fan, you’re going to go watch high school football,” Zell said.