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Murphy: Do we have too many high school games on TV?
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Friday’s games

High school football

Riverside Military at Banks County

Buford vs. Carver-Columbus

Chestatee at West Hall

Franklin County at Commerce

Dawson County at Gilmer

East Hall at Johnson

Flowery Branch at Winder-Barrow

White County at Gainesville

Habersham Central at Cedar Shoals

Jackson County at Walnut Grove

North Hall at Jefferson

Lakeview Academy at King’s Ridge

Union County at Lumpkin County

Towns County at Cherokee (N.C.)

I may be in a slim minority, but I think high school football is getting overly commercialized with so many games broadcast on live television. It's a trend that seems to be growing quite rapidly.

WSB-TV in Atlanta has added a Thursday night game to its programming plans, to go along with its Friday night broadcast every week.

Georgia Public Broadcasting opened the season on Aug. 20 with four games in the Corky Kell Classic last weekend, albeit very nice matchups and great teams, still it was just the first weekend of the regular season.

For the past couple weekends, ESPN seems to be wall-to-wall coverage of high school football.

Then the final act of the season is when Georgia Public Broadcasting shows all five state championship games live from the Georgia Dome, something the network started doing with state semifinal games back in my day, and has done a fine job covering ever since.

But when do we get to a point where there's too much high school football on TV? I feel at this point, I'm just as likely to catch a high school football game on TV as a repeat episode of Operation Repo.

I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't note that I was watching one of the afternoon games at the Dome last weekend, mainly to see Grayson's junior defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, a major national recruit for the Class of 2013, in action. He didn't disappoint.

But when I started thinking about how the games were just going to be shown rapid-fire, one after another, I started losing interest real quickly.

Clearly there is a market for so many high school games on television. Networks wouldn't commit prime time space on a Thursday and Friday night if viewers weren't viewing in high numbers.

WSB programing director Art Rogers said over the phone that his network bosts some of the highest ratings nationwide, making it a win-win for the networks and schools involved to get in on the live broadcasting.

Last season, I know after Friday night deadline, I'd regularly tune in to an early morning replay of the Friday night game on WSB, turning back and forth between that and ESPN.

But too much of a good thing has started to take away from its significance in my mind.

Clearly I want these athletes to receive publicity for playing well, I work in the media and devote Friday nights for four months every year to chase around high school football teams.

To get all sides of the issue, I asked North Hall coach Bob Christmas and Gainesville's Bruce Miller if its a good thing, since both have been shown on television plenty in recent seasons. And both replied that it's great for athletes and fans alike.

But like most things, there's always a downside.

The only pitfall Miller sees is that some of the attention these athletes receive may be a little premature, which is my point exactly.

"I think sometimes the big time may be hitting them before they hit the big time," said Miller.

Well phrased, coach.

When polled in The Times' sports department, one of my co-workers made a good point.

He said that showing so many games on television is good since it gives players that are marginal prospects more exposure and, perhaps, a chance at a college scholarship.

Well, that makes sense.

If a kid gets a chance at a free college education because of a college scout or coach seeing them play on TV, well, more power to them.

That's one of the great perks high school football players have at their fingertips.

I learned something else worthy of noting while researching this topic. Television broadcasts of regular season games are not sanctioned by the Georgia High School Association.

Instead, a network such at WSB gets permission from the home school to come in and broadcast, then takes over production duties from there.

Hopefully, all this high school football action on television will grow on me eventually.

I know it's here to stay.

Bill Murphy is a sportswriter for The Times. He may be reached at


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