Hudson Valley Sports Report

RICH THOMASELLI COMMENTARY: INNOCENCE OF THE FRIDAY NIGHT HS FOOTBALL GAME IS OVER

Community Saddened, Frustrated By Stabbing Death And Multiple Fights

Our Hudson Valley community is saddened today.

It is frustrated.

It is outraged.

And it should be.

Rich Thomaselli Commentary

Police were called to a fight at Dietz Stadium in Kingston on Friday night after the hometown Tigers beat Saugerties in a high school football game.

Police were called to a fight in Hyde Park after Roosevelt lost to Beacon following a football game.

And at Arlington, a 16-year old student was stabbed to death in the midst of a large fight in the parking lot following the Admirals’ football win over Scarsdale.

READ MORE: STUDENT STABBED TO DEATH AFTER ARLINGTON FOOTBALL GAME

Three fights. One night. One tragic death.

The aura and the pageantry and the innocence of the Friday night high school football game is over.

You know, I am reminded of what the National Football League once said about playing on Fridays. While college football long ago caved in to the TV money by having games on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Fridays, the NFL refused to play games on Friday nights.

Because Friday night is sacrosanct. Or was. Friday night is Friday Night Lights, the time when high school football takes center stage.

Now police cars and K-9 units are taking center stage, and the upshot has been tragic.

You could argue with the cliché that one bad apple shouldn’t spoil the whole bunch. You would be wrong. Because here’s another cliché for you – that ship has sailed.

The bad apples have been spoiling the bunch for far too long now. What happened on Friday night are not isolated incidents. They’ve been going on for far too long.

I never thought I would say this, but maybe it’s time to move all games to Saturday afternoons or 4 p.m. starts on Fridays. It’s drastic, yes, but is there anything more drastic than a 16-year old losing their life? Anything more drastic than a devastated family?

There was a time, not too long ago, when I railed against such measures. In fact, I took a stand in print over a game at John Jay against either Ketcham or Arlington a few years ago that was moved to an early Friday start over fears of potential violence.
I remember writing how it ruined the whole ambiance of Friday Night Lights.

How stupid was I?

There are little to no alternatives here. Local police, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Troopers, they only have so many resources to send officers to games. The school districts don’t have the kind of money to hire enough off-duty police or private security to handle large crowds. A metal detector could cost anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000.

If it means saving our kids, moving games to an earlier start on Fridays or to afternoon kickoffs on Saturdays is a small price to pay.

The joy of Friday Night Football is gone.

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