Prep football season starts too early

Published 11:03 pm Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Mississippi High School Activities Association again is rolling the dice with a mid-August start to the 2012 high school football season.

Four years ago, the state’s athletic governing body allowed teams to choose a “bye week,” in return for starting the season a week earlier than in previous years. The prep football season begins on Friday night at 6 at Warren Central High School for the 50th playing of the Red Carpet Bowl.

If there is logic behind starting a season on the third Friday in August — the second-hottest month of the year — we cannot find it. It’s too early. It’s too hot. It will take a human disaster to get it changed, but the association continues to roll the dice on early start times. And for what? To allow schools to choose what week they will not have to play.

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Consider: The average high temperature on Aug. 17 is 92 degrees. The hottest times of the day are from about 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It’s stifling to sit in shorts and a T-shirt, let alone strap on body armor and a tight-fitting helmet to run around hitting people for two hours.

Vicksburg High acted wisely in scheduling its bye week for Aug. 24. Warren Central chose Sept. 14 when the average high temperature is 87 degrees. St. Aloysius is taking its off day on Oct. 19 when the average high temperature is 78 degrees.

Reasoning will say decisions are being made for convenience to the team rather than safety. Can there be safety concerns when a team is told to play a 6 p.m. game in the middle of August as Vicksburg High is being told to do for the Red Carpet Bowl?

The MHSAA wants to keep the historic 11-game schedule and four-game playoff system. The season ends on the first weekend of December.

When the season ends has never been a problem. That’s when it begins. No logical reason exists to start a high school football season so early in August. None.

We hope and pray that all of our football players stay safe on Friday night. We hope the swelter does not turn a competitive football game into a medical emergency. But mostly, we hope whoever is making the rules at the MHSAA abandons this ridiculous start date for football teams and considers safety for just one second.

Because now, they have given up all thoughts of safety for an off-day on a cooler night.