The University Interscholastic League continues to adjust to the “new normal” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, including on the broadcast front.
The state’s governing body for Texas extracurricular actives announced Wednesday that it would allow schools to broadcast Friday night football games live during the 2020 season.
It is a mammoth change in the league’s rules that has allowed live radio broadcast and video following a game’s completion on Friday nights.
UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt announced the move Wednesday during the UIL’s biannual legislative council meeting. Breithaupt was allowed the power to modify current rules temporarily related to the pandemic in May.
“We know this: There will be many people who stay away because they are fearful, particularly our elderly and our senior citizens,” Breithaupt said. We want to give them a chance to see the game based on what the local district allows.”
The UIL will not be involved in the decision making process for each district’s broadcasts.
Instead, both teams in each game must agree on broadcast parameters.
The change is more of a one-off idea for the 2020 season in the UIL’s eyes.
“There’s Friday Night Lights elements that still exist in Texas and we don’t believe COVID-19 is going to do away with that,” Breithaupt said. “But I do believe this is a time for us to stand down on our Friday night broadcast rule.”
The temporary change is only for football, the UIL already allows live broadcasts of all other sports.
The UIL does allow football games not on Friday night to be broadcast live if agreed upon by the participating schools.
The UIL has been very clear about its preference to keep Friday games off live broadcasts going forward in the name of attendance and keeping “passion” of Friday night football in tact.
“The UIL has no interest in getting involved in those conversations unless you need our assistance,” Breithaupt said. “We’re not going to gain one thing from this. It just gives people a chance to see the game that wouldn’t ordinarily come because of COVID-19.”
The UIL has not released a clear plan yet for the return of sports in Texas for the fall season. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will allow stadiums in Texas to open with fans at 50 percent capacity.
Lamar Consolidated ISD Supt. Thomas Randle and Needville ISD Supt. Curtis Rhodes served as legislative council officers
“What respect people at Lamar Consolidated ISD have for him,” Breithaupt said.
“They named a school after him. He served well for us as legislative council chair and he’s been a long-time member of the council. I appreciated his support during this time and especially last year.”