OPINIONS: Why the East High football team deserves better. By Max Brown. Published in the October 2018 issue.
It is almost impossible to hear yourself think inside the locker room amidst the deafening rumble of the crowd directly overhead. The vibrations of hundreds of stomping feet almost topple the cups of water set out for football players, and make it feel as if you’re about to play at Folsom Field instead of Denver Public Schools (DPS) all city stadium.
The setting is nothing short of electric.
The setting is nothing short of electric. Friday night high school football is an integral part of American sports culture in which high school students pack the stands to watch and support their team. No other high school sporting event comes close to the energy and spirit commonly exhibited by the student body during these games. However, for the East High School Angels’ football team, they cannot experience this as thousands of high schools across the nation do.
The Angels’ 2018 football schedule is without a single Friday night home game this season. Instead, the season is filled with Thursday evening or Saturday afternoon games, which pull far less fan support than a 7 p.m. Friday night game. “It’s irritating not to be able to play on Friday nights,” says Boston Anderson, a sophomore player. “It’s such a big part of football that it doesn’t feel the same without it.”
Not playing on Friday also has a considerable effect on how the players perform on the field. Without the energy and support from the fans and students attending the game, it feels more like a practice rather than a true high school football game. “Friday night lights games have a different atmosphere. There’s much more energy than playing on a Friday night under the lights than a Saturday at two o’clock,” says Jimmie Rice, middle linebacker.
“Friday night lights games have a different atmosphere.”
Not only are the Angels denied a true and rightfully-deserved Friday night showdown, but every other team – other than football – plays their home games on the turf. Instead, players have to get onto busses and ride a painful 30 minutes to All-City Stadium, a communal field where the East colors and logos are not displayed on the field. This takes a significant amount of support away from home games, where students have to find a way to get to the stadium instead of simply walking out of the building and into the stands. “It’s understandable why we don’t play on the turf, but at the same time students and fans have to drive all the way to South High School just to support their home team,” comments junior player, Kieran Reilly. Publicity for the team’s games is sparse, as well. East games are not commonly mentioned in morning announcements or Angels On Air, and score reports to the student body are very rare.
But it doesn’t stop there. All teams at East are given one senior night game where the seniors on the team are honored as students and athletes. Due to East’s lopsided schedule, with only four home games and six away games, there is no true senior game this year. Instead of being honored during a game under the lights for all the school to see, East will honor their seniors during a 2 p.m. Saturday game with likely very little attendance. This is unfair to the players who have worked hard for over four years to reach this point and hear their name announced over the loudspeakers. Even if the team itself is not one of Colorado’s elite football programs, these players still deserve to be honored because of their hard work and dedication through the years as student athletes.
Football is by far America’s most popular sport, and the tradition of showing up to support your high school team on Friday nights is deeply-rooted into America’s high school culture.
Even if the team itself is not one of Colorado’s elite football programs, these players still deserve to be honored.
Friday night games are not only a great way for students and fans to show their colors in the stands, but are an ideal place for players to give their all in front of their whole school. However, it is impossible for fans and players alike to do this if they cannot play on Friday nights in the first place. The East Football team not only has zero of these famous Friday night light games in their schedule, but no Homecoming or senior night game where players can be honored this year. This affects the players immensely because they cannot experience playing for their school under the lights, or even be honored by their school as student athletes.
Next year, it is crucial for the football schedule to change, giving these hard-working players the Friday night home game experience and home field advantage they rightfully deserve.