A realistic plan to combat Florida high school football's weather woes

Jon Santucci
Palm Beach Post
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Are you starting to confuse the blasts from the Thor Guard for your school’s fight song? 

(You’ve likely heard one a lot more than the other this season.) 

It’s forgivable and you’re probably not alone. After all, it is mid-September and you do live on a peninsula.  

You know all this, but it’s still frustrating that we’ve had so many games delayed, postponed or canceled this season.  

Every week has been an adventure this season. The fact that some weeks it seems like Monday through Wednesday looks like a postcard only for the skies to go black and lightning to come down two hours before kickoff on Thursday or Friday doesn’t help the mood, either.  

So, here’s the real question: Can anything be done? 

Maybe.  

Let’s get the ridiculous out of the way.  

No philanthropist has volunteered to build regional domes around the state, so that’s not an option. (But, on the off chance that you are a philanthropist looking to focus your fortune on high school football, it’s not the worst idea.) 

The start of the Bayside Bears at Palm Bay Pirates football was delayed due to lightning within range, but eventually began in the rain.

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The FHSAA is not moving football season. This has been suggested several times, but it really doesn’t work. Pushing the season back a month sounds good unless you think about what it means for those athletes who play multiple sports and how it would crush small schools that rely on players going straight from the football field to the basketball court to field a team. It also ends the opportunity for teams to play out-of-state opponents and severely limits the exposure teams are receiving on television. That doesn’t even get into what a four- or five-week delay would mean for the postseason, considering the final championship games already are a week or so before Christmas.  

People gathered outside the stadium, waiting for the all-clear to go in, due to lightning near the Bayside Bears at Palm Bay Pirates football game.

So, is there a realistic fix? 

Well, “fix” is a strong word. It’s more like an alternative to the reality that we live with being in Florida.  

Basically, plan for it.  

Let’s be proactive because the idea that weather wreaking havoc with the season is unexpected is ridiculous. We know it’s going to happen and it’s going to keep happening. So let’s expect it and prepare for it. 

One option is building two universal bye weeks into the season, perhaps the final week of September and the first week of November. If it’s not needed, great. But it immediately gives coaches and athletic directors a simple plan to make up games regardless of where they’re located in the state or district schedules. 

That wouldn’t be without its challenges. It immediately adds a week into the regular season. The obvious fix is moving the Kickoff Classics up a week It’s not exactly elegant and still has its issues, but it would give everyone two built-in makeup game dates. 

University Christian's Orel Gray #4 scores a touchdown during the second quarter on Aug. 26 at University Christian School in Jacksonville. The University Christian Fightin' Christians defeated Union County Fightin' Tigers 33-14 after a 30-minute lightning delay at the end of the third quarter.

Want to keep everything the same? OK, then let’s do a better job of helping coaches and administrators finding make-up games. Coaches acknowledge that the FHSAA has a classified system to post teams looking for games but add that it can take a while for the post to go online so they prefer the immediacy of social media. That’s not great. Fix the system.  

Making up games must be a priority, considering coaches are asking players to prepare year-round just for the ability to play in 10 games. Not doing everything possible to give student athletes the maximum number of games isn’t right. (And it doesn’t help that we all know those athletic directors or administrators who are ready to cancel a game as soon as a cloud appears.) 

So, let’s limit the excuses and make it easier to make up games. 

We know weather is coming. It shouldn’t be that hard to plan for it.  

Jon Santucci is the statewide high school football recruiting reporter for the USA Today Florida Network. He can be reached at jsantucci@gannett.com. 

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