With the high school football playoffs gearing up this week, we’re hearing rumblings the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association is ready to package two or more December championship games at a single site.
Maybe the OSSAA has a multi-year contract with one or more universities to host the games, like the one it had with Oklahoma State when all games were played in Boone Pickens Stadium before the pact expired in 2014.
The OSSAA has called a 2 p.m. Wednesday news conference to announce something, and if that’s what it has in mind, here’s one voice to say it can’t happen soon enough.
It used to be a person could drive from Tulsa or Oklahoma City to Stillwater early on a Saturday and see two or three title games on a single tank of gas.
But since 2014, the only multi-game programs we’ve seen have been in the semifinals. TU hosted the Class 6A Division I final four the past two years and the University of Central Oklahoma had the 6AII semifinals in 2017.
Championship games in the various classes are frequently scheduled in direct conflict with one another. Staggering them over a weekend at the same site would make it possible for a person to see more than one.
Last Nov. 30, title games in five classes were played more or less simultaneously at TU (6AI), Owasso (6AII), Edmond Santa Fe (5A), Yukon (4A) and Western Heights (3A).
That wasn’t fun for anybody but the schools involved at each site.
In adhering to a Friday-for-all-games policy the last few years, the OSSAA has argued the state’s administrators preferred to play on Friday nights.
After all, most other high school football games are played on Fridays, and coaches will argue it’s easier to keep their athletes focused and under control before they’ve dispersed for the day and gone home to families and friends than it is to re-muster the next morning.
But we’re told more and more administrators want a return to the idea of a central site. Grouping the games together might encourage the casual fan and enhance the interest level for everyone.
Nothing in basketball is more fun than tournament time when multiple teams and fan bases gather at a central site. People talk basketball and get to know one another, and fans are able to watch teams play they ordinarily wouldn’t see.
Maybe it’s time for the OSSAA to get back to a similar approach in football. Here’s hoping Wednesday’s news conference is a step in the right direction.