Friday night lights, camera, action? UIL will discuss football for TV

To celebrate football in Texas, the UIL will make a proposal to televise one or two Friday night games to open the 2017 season.

Under a long-standing UIL rule, high school football games on Friday nights are not televised live. That would cut the number of fans who are interested in watching the state’s most popular sport in person, the UIL believes.

On Tuesday, the UIL will discuss the possibility of a one-night pilot program to televise high school football this fall, as well as a variety of other high school topics when its legislative council convenes in Round Rock.

UIL deputy director Jamey Harrison stressed this is “not a stepping stone” to televise more high school games in the future. Instead, he described it as a celebration to highlight the opening weekend of football, adding that Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and TCU also will open their seasons that weekend.

Harrison said the UIL’s “television partner,” Fox Sports Southwest, will televise the event. It hasn’t been determined whether one or two games will be televised or what matchups are being considered, he said.

Harrison said other states have adopted similar celebration days to promote high school sports. As examples, he said Indiana does it for basketball and Minnesota does it for hockey.

As for Texas football, all schools involved must consent to being televised, he said.

Harrison added the proposal is a “one-year deal,” but if it’s considered a success, it’s possible that future opening-night games would be televised.

Besides the Friday-night football proposal, scheduled speakers on Tuesday also will make proposals to add various sports — indoor track and field, lacrosse, disc golf, fencing, table tennis and skeet/trap/sporting clays.

In another proposal, the UIL will discuss changing the schedule of performing criminal background checks of sports officials. A new state law requires sports officials, after having an initial background check, to submit to subsequent checks every three years, rather than annually as the UIL does now.

All currently registered sports officials would be required to undergo a subsequent background check no later than Sept. 1, 2020.

Other proposals expected to be discussed:

  • Allowing post-district playoffs in middle school, and improving and extending the number of basketball games allowed.
  • Allowing students from military families immediate eligibility when orders change.
  • Disallowing mini camps for all sports the week before or during final exams.

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