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Football in an oven

I have survived yet another 8-man football All-Star Saturday. I’m glad that comes around only once per year.

What is it going to take to get these coaches to move the games to nighttime? Face it–the vast majority of high school football games are played at night. The only games which are played in the daytime, at least in Kansas are a few high school playoff games on Saturday, the state championship games the Saturday before (8-man) and after (11-man) Thanksgiving, and those games at Weskan High School. Weskan is a microscopic hamlet not too far from the Kansas-Colorado state line on US 40. The stadium in the town does not have lights, meaning home games kick off at 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time. If Weskan somehow hosts a football game, it has to play it at Sharon Springs, the nearest facility with lights.

Even worse, why do the 8-man coaches insist on conducting their All-Star games in the middle of the day in June? Today was downright toasty. Temperatures near 90 (32 Celsius) with high humidity. The dew point was hovering near 70, which is more like it should be in Little Rock at this time of year. As bad as today was, it has been much worse in past years.

Is it going to take someone suffering heatstroke to get these coaches to change? Is it going to take someone dying or suffering severe damage to organs for this to change?

If I were a parent who had a son who was asked to play in this game, I would seriously consider not letting him play to send a message to the 8-man coaches association. They are playing God with lives. It is utterly ridiculous.

I also don’t believe there is the need for two games. One game would do just find. Expand the rosters to 30 players. Of course, by having two games, the 8-man coaches association can rip off more people with their outrageous ticket prices ($12) and contribute to our society’s desire to make everyone feel good and not teach them that disappointment is a part of life and it’s better they learn it now than later.

Yes, I am well aware tickets for the Shrine Bowl, the All-Star game in July, cost more than $12. However, all of the proceeds from the tickets are going to a great cause, Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. The ticket proceeds for the 8-man games could be going back into the coaches’ pockets for all I know.

I don’t have anything against Beloit. There are some wonderful people in Beloit. I love you, Cami Engelbert.

However, I would like to see the game at a larger facility with artificial turf. Newton and Salina, as I’ve mentioned before, are great ideas. So is Hays. If the coaches would like to continue to hold camp in Beloit, that’s fine. Then bus the kids to the game site. And if the coaches insist on two games, play one game Friday at 7:30 and the other Saturday at 7:30 (move it back 30 minutes as a concession to the heat).

Today was a mixed bag. The 8-man games rate somewhere between the ugly (Serena Williams winning the French Open) and the sublime (LSU winning on Chris Sciambra’s home run in the bottom fo the 9th vs. ULL in the first game of the super regional at Baton Rouge). As for American Pharaoh winning the Triple Crown, now those of us between 10 and 43 can now say we witnessed a Triple Crown winner. I was alive for Seattle Slew and Affirmed in 1977 and ’78, but even I couldn’t fathom horse racing at 19 months old.

The boys of summer (not baseball)

I’m up before the sun this morning since I have to travel to Beloit for what has become an annual rite of June for me.

Today, the Kansas 8-Man Football Association will conduct its annual All-Star doubleheader at Beloit High School. There is a game for each division; the Division II game starts at 10 a.m., followed by the Division I game at 1:30 p.m.

Teams are divided strictly based upon the district assignments of the Kansas State High School Activities Association. Therefore, schools in districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 make up the East teams, and the schools from districts 5, 6, 7 and 8 make up the West squads.

That’s too simplistic of a way to select teams. Osborne, for instance, has its players on the East squad since it is a member of District 4 of Division I, but there is no way you can tell me Osborne is in eastern Kansas.

Eight-man coaches bitched for years and years about the lack of 8-man players in the Shrine Bowl, the annual All-Star game which is played later in the summer. In 1986, when there were fewer 8-man programs than there are now, the coaches decided to begin an annual All-Star game just for the 8-man players at Beloit. It was one game until 2001, when separate games were created for each Division.

The Shrine Bowl began in 1974. There are two players from the 8-man ranks selected for each squad, not many when you consider 68 players in all are selected. The 8-man coaches have begged for proportional representation in the Shrine Bowl, which would mean there would have to be eight or nine players on each squad from the 8-man ranks, since nearly one quarter of football playing schools are currently in the 8-man ranks.

I don’t understand why these games are played in the daytime. Most football games are played at night to begin with. The only day games are second round playoff games on Saturday for Class 3A and the two 8-man divisions, and the state championship games. Worse, why the heck do coaches want to play a day game in June, when it will more than likely be 90 degrees or above? Today’s highs are going to come close to 90, and as bad as that sounds, it has been worse. I can recall more than one day it was above 100. That’s just begging for heat exhaustion, or God forbid, heatstroke. The track athletes may love the hot weather because it’s easier to warm up, but they aren’t wearing all that equipment. The helmet may protect a player’s head, but it sure traps the heat.

Beloit supports sports and has some great people, but I would like to see these games played at a larger stadium, preferably one which has artificial turf. Newton, which hosts the 8-man championship games in November, would be ideal. So would Salina Central or Kansas Wesleyan, both of which have turf and the proper capacity. If Russell upgraded its visitors stands, then it could also be an option.

I’ve got my fluids and my sunscreen ready to go. Should be a hot one. I guess I have to pay the piper for the beautiful weather at state track last weekend.