EDITORIAL: The Mid-American Conference is making a mistake scheduling football games on Black Friday
Having the last home game during Thanksgiving Break is senseless for student, players
Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving – is a day we look forward to for many reasons.
We do some early holiday shopping. We take a day to relax from the stresses of the fall semester and greedily eat the leftovers from a big family dinner. It’s a great time to catch up on classwork or work on projects.
Some students, however, don’t get that luxury. They’re at Kelly/Shorts Stadium the day after Thanksgiving playing football, marching in the band or working in the press box.
They’re a part of the annual Black Friday football game — the last home game of the season and the last time many of these students will take the field.
It’s an insult to the hard work they’ve put in during their time at Central Michigan University. Not only that, the numbers don’t justify the end result.
The Mid-American Conference argues Black Friday games allow teams like CMU, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, to have a primetime spot on national cable television. The rational is that on Nov. 24, MAC teams won’t be fighting for viewership with Big 10 Conference games, the National Football League or other major football games.
The weekday “MACtion” games are usually broadcast on ESPN as a part of its agreement with the MAC. However, the conference now has a contract with CBS Sports to broadcast certain games, the Black Friday game included.
What good is “national exposure” to the MAC when CBS Sports is broadcasting from an empty stadium? When the Chippewas played on Black Friday in 2015, 8,049 people attended. Kelly/Shorts Stadium can hold more than 30,000 fans.
How great did that look on national television?
That Black Friday event was the lowest turnout CMU athletics has on record for a home football game. We’re not sure if this Black Friday game will fare any better.
In 2015, Head Coach John Bonamego agreed scheduling games the day after Thanksgiving isn’t practical. He suggested moving games to the Tuesday before Thanksgiving so students and alumni have a better opportunity to attend.
That’s an idea worth exploring.
It’s better than continuing to shortchange athletes, the student body and alumni who would like the opportunity to see the last home game of the season in Mount Pleasant rather than in their living rooms. It at least gives those people, the fans who are proud to call themselves Chippewas, a chance to see their team play one more time.
It also gives players more to fight for. It’s more meaningful to play for a crowd of your peers than in an empty stadium.
After a long couple of months without much of a break in our academic schedule, students are going to be at home, spending time with family and friends. Most of them will not be in attendance at the Black Friday game.
Football games are largely meant to be a source of school pride and offer a social gathering for students, faculty, staff, community members and alumni. Tailgating and cheering from the stands are why most students go to games at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
On Black Friday, students and alumni historically don’t come back to Mount Pleasant — they stay home for the holiday.
Sadly, Black Friday will be the seniors’ last home game. Instead of seeing a cheering crowd, seniors will see empty stands. The students on the football team, in the marching band and on the cheerleading squad are forced to choose between going home and rushing back to Mount Pleasant or not seeing their families until after Thanksgiving.
Our football team has 30 out-of-state athletes. Some come from as far away as New York and California.
They certainly haven’t seen their families much during football season and Thanksgiving is most likely the only time they will before the start of winter break.
These athletes, musicians and cheerleaders deserve to be with their families for Thanksgiving. Students deserve to see their team play at home one last time. Alumni deserve the chance to come back to their alma mater for a game that doesn’t feel like it’s being played in a deserted stadium.
But apparently for the MAC, television revenue trumps family tradition.