BOONE — It’s all about the kids.
That was the initial basis for the IHSAA’s decision to vote on possible changes to the high school football season. The organization was looking into ways to limit what many coaches complained was an exhaustive amount of games in such a short amount of time at the end of the season.
However, after the matter was introduced Wednesday, nothing has changed, at least in terms of the schedule. Iowa’s high school football regular season will remain at nine games, much to the delight of coaches and athletic directors throughout the state. The motion to limit the season was shelved, never making it to a vote.
A few small changes were implemented. Sister districts for 8-man football through Class 3A have been eliminated and a 125-mile travel limit has been put into place for first-round match ups. Playoff brackets will also be reseeded following each round, with geography being given strong consideration.
The lack of immediate change to the regular season means schools will not be forced to do without an extra home game every other year. An extra home game means more revenue generated for the school, which goes towards funding some of the less revenue-generating sports.
“The amount of money we take in from that home game is substantial,” Newton Athletic Director Scott Garvis said. “Our concession stands alone take in thousands each year. I’m happy to hear they haven’t made any changes, because that money is important. We rely on it to help pay for some of the other sports.”
Another option proposed to the board, was the possibility of pushing the entire season up a week, but that was shelved, as well. Iowa’s High School Football Coaches Association originally asked the IHSAA to come up with a way to alleviate some of the safety concerns associated with the short time in between games toward the end of the playoffs. Those concerns still exist, but for now nothing has been done.
Coaches throughout the area are relieved to have the nine-game schedule still intact. Several of them cite those non-district games early in the season as ways to prepare for some of the more intense competition later in the year.
“The playoffs are tough. They are a grind, but coaches know that. It’s their responsibility to make the necessary adjustments,” Lynnville-Sully head football coach Mike Parkinson said. “I think that an extra non-district game is a great chance for the kids to play, and it’s a good measuring stick for teams going into the heart of the season. If you look at the higher levels of our sport, whether it be college or professional, they all have those so-called warm-up games.”
The bottom line for many coaches was that it came down to the kids. For all the boys who work hard throughout the fall and into the winter months, more games means more fun.
Several coaches pointed out that the players want to play as many games as possible, and the game was not meant to discourage that.
“It’s all about the kids. For teams that don’t get to the playoffs, they get the chance to play nine games,” Colfax-Mingo head coach Jeff Lietz said.
“Of course there are financial considerations as far as the school is concerned, because football helps the other sports,” he added. “But it’s all about the kids. Absolutely, I’m happy about the decision because the main concern of mine was not for the kids to lose that extra game.”