Late Tipoffs Mean No Sleep For Student Athletes

As if student athletes needed an excuse for falling asleep in class, they’re being given a doozy. But this one carries a little more cache than “F*** school, I’m on varsity.” Their games are ending too late.

Sleeping Students

This isn’t an east coast kid watching the NBA finals start at 9:30. This is high school basketball parents and coaches getting wound up over late game times. How late are we talking here? “After midnight.” Won’t somebody please think of the children?

To save money, more and more schools are playing four games in a row at one site (boys’ and girls’ varsity and JV). With games tipping off at the end of the school day, this can lead to all-evening affairs.

On Feb. 10, a high school basketball game, featuring the top two boys teams in the state started at 8:41 p.m. Hopewell’s team, ranked No. 1, left Vance’s gym, after an exhilarating 70-62 win, just before 11 to take a bus back to campus.

By the time the players got home and ready for bed, it was going to be after midnight.

Here’s the thing, though. What high school kid doesn’t go to bed after midnight? I know I rarely started homework before then, and I wasn’t even on the basketball team.

Concord boys coach Scott Brewer has had games start as late at 8:50 in gyms more than an hour’s bus ride from campus.

“That teacher who coaches is so fatigued that they’re affecting 90 to 100 kids because they’re too dad-gum tired to teach,” Brewer said. “So it’s video day or worksheet day, especially for somebody who teaches, say, English or Chemistry. And even a P.E. teacher will just sit on their can and roll the balls out.”

Wow, when I was in school, I always assumed those teachers were just hung over.

Different schools have tried different approaches to shortening game times, from moving the JV games to a different site, to playing with a running clock, to playing with shorter quarters altogether. But in places that are crazy for prep sports, the big games are always going to need to be in primetime.

Maybe we should just give our star athletes a pass on completing their homework? Oh wait, we already do that.