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MailTribune.com
  • A tradition abandoned

    Too many Beaver football games this year are being played under the lights
  • Call us old-fashioned Luddites, but we still believe that college football games should be played on autumn afternoons on Saturdays.
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  • Call us old-fashioned Luddites, but we still believe that college football games should be played on autumn afternoons on Saturdays.
    Our preference would be to leave the stadium lights off, except for rainy Saturday afternoons and the rare occasion — say, when the Oregon State University Beavers play the University of Southern California Trojans — when a night game seems to be part of the tradition. (The tradition resumes, appropriately enough, Friday at 6 p.m.)
    But take a look at the starting times thus far this season for the Beavers. The team has played just two traditional Saturday afternoon games:
    The Aug. 31 opener, against Eastern Washington University, kicked off at 3 p.m. The Sept. 28 game against Colorado started at noon.
    On the road, the earliest kickoff time for the Beavers this season came in the Sept. 21 game against San Diego State, which started at 4:30 p.m.
    The Beavers may not have another afternoon kickoff until the game against Oregon on Nov. 29, which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. (Starting times for two games have yet to be announced.)
    Let's say you're a fan of the Oregon Ducks and afternoon games. You're in luck: The Ducks will play at least seven games this season that kick off before 5 p.m.
    We can only imagine the stress that these night games put on the teams — especially in cases such as the recent stretch for the Beavers when the team had to travel to two consecutive Saturday night games. These days in the Pac-12 Conference, a typical game takes four hours to play. So a night game usually goes until nearly midnight — and the flight home doesn't arrive until the wee hours of Sunday. That has to play havoc with the schedules of students and coaches alike.
    (In fact, that scheduling drew a rare note of complaint from Mike Riley, the Beavers' head coach.)
    TV networks, of course, are the major force these days in determining when games are played. And athletics administrators aren't likely to turn their backs on the geyser of cash that TV has poured into their programs.
    But the cash comes with tradeoffs.
    For one thing, a later start means a heavier load for police agencies as they deal with fans who have been drinking all day.
    And, in our minds at least, the ideal college football experience involves sunny afternoons, with a touch of chill in the air, and a chance to revel in the brilliant foliage of fall.
    Increasingly, though, the typical college football experience involves fans huddling together for warmth on miserable Saturday nights as the clock ticks toward midnight and yet another TV timeout plays out on the field.
    But thank goodness for those TV timeouts: They give us yet another opportunity to hear that Gary Glitter song boom out over the PA system. You know the one. Let's hear it again.
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