This past Friday night was a tough one for teams, coaches, fans, administrators and yes, even sports announcers. Most games on high school football's opening night were either delayed, postponed or cancelled altogether. My partner Steve Lusk and I were at Heritage high school for the LFO-Heritage contest, being broadcast on WFLI AM and FM.
Now before I go any further, let me say that Heritage is a wonderful school, with a beautiful stadium with a poorly planned press box. Because of the way the press box is set up, there was no room for members of the working press to actually be -in-the box during the game. Heritage officials placed us outside the press box with a good view of the field. It was rather warm, but was certainly bearable. The problem was this-there was no cover on the table we were sitting behind and we were sitting on a metal platform. So, if a thunderstorm came up during the game, we would need to pack up and leave in a hurry. It stormed.....big-time.
At halftime after Heritage had built a 35-20 advantage, the LFO band was on the field when the weather turned nasty. The wind blew, lightning danced all around us and it rained sideways. We had already packed up our gear and moved inside the press box where we waited for an hour before we decided our night was over. The nice folks in the press box were willing to make room for us and even fed us some snacks. It looked as if the game would be stopped with Heritage getting a 35-20 win. It wasn't a region game so it would have been okay if the rest of the game wasn't played. We left and left the decision to play or not up to the officials and administrators.
Eventually the game was completed with Heritage hanging on for a 41-27 win. Most of the crowd had left but the game was completed. I arrived at home a little later, soaking wet but glad to be out of that nasty weather. It's something that must be dealt with in the early part of the season. Just like at the end of the season, when cold weather becomes a factor.
I have broadcast games before either outside the press box or on the roof of a press box but never sitting on a metal platform in a thunderstorm. That was a first. My advice to officials at Heritage and the Catoosa county school system is to expand the press box and put a roof or cover on the expansion. And some advice for any school building a new stadium or a new press box. Make sure it's big enough and planned well enough to include the working members of the press who may cover one of your games. after all, it is called a -press box-.
Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com