The WPIAL's 7:30 p.m. kickoff time is a subject I wrote about last year and it's also the subject of a Post-Gazette varsity blog today, so I thought I'd weigh in on the matter.
There's no reason not to start games at 7 p.m. and I know a lot of people who believe the same thing. High school football games are 15-20 minutes longer than they were just eight to 10 years ago. Last Friday, I covered the Blackhawk at Trinity contest, a fun-to-watch 34-33 win for the Hillers in double overtime. The game featured fine performances by both teams but the clock read 10 p.m. and there were several minutes left in the fourth quarter. (Not that it matters to the masses, but that is a prep sports writer's worst-case scenario).
I didn't walk off the field from post-game interviews until 10:56 p.m.
That's ridiculous. Games are ending late because of the 7:30 p.m. kickoff, more passing, more substitutions and injuries.
It's unlikely anything will ever change, but, a year ago, Mike Ciarochi, the sports editor of the Uniontown Herald-Standard, attended a meeting of the Tri-County Athletic Directors Association with the idea of a 7 p.m. kickoff. Ciarochi had my full-fledged support, and a few ADs thought it to be a good idea.
However, the WPIAL is convinced a 7:30 p.m. kickoff brings in larger audiences. Hard to argue. It also causes many high schoolers with junior licenses to be driving illegally following the game.