BLACKED OUT

By Staff

Athletic Management, 17.6, October/November 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1706/wublackedout.htm

On Sept. 9, viewers of the ESPNU cable channel in 49 states saw a marquee match-up between two high school football state champions: Robert E. Lee High School from Tyler, Texas vs. Colerain High School from Cincinnati, Ohio. In Texas, however, the highly anticipated game was blacked out. A longstanding University Interscholastic League rule prohibits live broadcasts of Friday night high school football, and despite pressure to make an exception from ESPNU and State Senator Kevin Eltife (whose district includes the Tyler area), the association stuck to its guns.

Kim Rogers, UIL Director of Public Information, says the rule is all about protecting local high school games from televised competition. “For the majority of our schools, football gate receipts are their main source of funding,” she says. “It’s important for community members to support their local school and take part in the tradition of Friday night football. In this case, televising live could have hurt attendance at other games in the Tyler area.”

The Ohio High School Athletic Association also has a rule against live Friday night football broadcasts. However, it granted a one-time exception so the game could be shown in the Buckeye state.

The UIL does not prohibit live broadcasts on other nights of the week, since off nights usually do not interfere with other schools’ game attendance. Last year, two Texas high schools moved games to Thursday nights so they could be broadcast regionally, and that remains a viable option for schools in the state.