Friday night games have long been a tradition for high school football teams across the United States. Many high schools target Fridays as a way to generate student support and provide a fun weekend activity while avoiding competition with the NFL and college football. There is even a popular 2009 TV show titled “Friday Night Lights” that focuses on a specific high school team’s journey to the state championship.
However, unlike the rest of the country, the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC), which includes Loomis Chaffee and the Founders League, has not participated in this tradition since its founding in 1942. At New England prep schools, Friday night games happen, but far more occasionally than other high school leagues. Head Football Coach Jeff Moore highlighted Saturday classes as the main reason for the lack of Friday night games. Associate Director of Athletics Ms. Stephanie Bissett echoed that the biggest “hurdle” is accommodating Saturday school at Loomis’ peer institutions.
Bissett also identified that Loomis’ 2021 football schedule is reflective of the 2019 season, reverting back to the team’s schedule before COVID-19, so the number of Friday night games this season was carried over from the previous schedule.
Moore, however, expressed his support for Friday night games. “From a football standpoint, the ability to play at night, whether it’s Friday or Saturday, [provides] a more energetic atmosphere, because more students are there [to support],” he said.
The coach also mentioned his own high school experience playing both Saturday and Friday night games.
“At home, for my first two years [when we played on Saturdays], we definitely had less people at the games compared to my last two years [when we played on Friday nights],” Moore said.
Furthermore, many Loomis players want to play in Friday night games.
“I believe Friday night games would change the atmosphere at the games and benefit our team’s momentum,” said Nate Cobery ’23.
Loomis’ revised sports schedule now includes most games being played 30 to 60 minutes apart from each other. This makes it hard for students, especially in-season athletes, to support each other in their respective games. If Loomis were to play football games at night, more students would be able to attend and support the team.
However, according to Moore, there is still hope for NEPSAC to transition to Friday night games in the future if schools begin moving away from Saturday classes. And although she raised logistical concerns such as officials, travel times, and meals, Bissett also expressed optimism too.
“It’s something we can look into. If other schools are willing, we can schedule [Friday night games]. If we are able to fit them in, that benefits both us and them.”