‘Rite Idea: Let’s Bring Our Friday Nights Back Home

Clear eyes, full hearts, lights up.

Athletes can attest, nothing compares to the feeling of running onto a lighted field to the surrounding sound of screaming fans. But it’s hard to bask in that glory when the fans are screaming for the other team.

Shaker athletes have only experienced the secondhand excitement of Friday night games under the lights. Our teams pile onto old school buses and sit through exhausting drives only to be met with the hype of another team’s crowd. Although the atmosphere under the lights rubs off on the players, it is not the same if they are not on home turf. Shaker athletes’ home games are much different.

Played in the afternoon or early evening, often before sparse crowds, Shaker home games tend to be pitiful. There’s nothing like a parent-dominated crowd and the glint of the sun to really put a damper on students’ school spirit.

However, contrary to popular belief, Shaker is not incapable of producing a revved up student section at home games. In fact, Shaker has proven very spirited at both hockey and basketball games in years past. But it is hard to get in the same rah-rah team mindset while squinting into the setting sun surrounded by fired-up parents. As students all know, if there is anything worse than parents’ road rage, it is their sport rage.

There’s nothing like a parent-dominated crowd and the glint of the sun to really put a damper on students’ school spirit.

Shaker is missing out on this staple of American culture. Travel to any other state on a Friday night, even any other school district in Ohio, and you will likely find a stadium full of supportive community members and rowdy student sections cheering on their football team. Not only would the lights unify the student body, but they would also attract the community to the games.

How powerful would the addition of lights actually be? Parents and students would be more likely to attend home field hockey, soccer, lacrosse and football games and even track meets if they were played under the lights at a more accommodating hour. For example, Friday night home football games would be much more reasonable than Saturday afternoon games. Students and parents would not have to spend hours of their Saturdays at the high school; we all know no one wants to let a minute of their precious Saturday go to waste, and it’s not as if students are going to dig into homework on a Friday night. Not only would Friday night games be more accessible to working parents and community members, but they would also give students something to look forward to after a long school week. Night games would be a great way to kick off the weekends as a community.

Because this investment would also affect the community, The Shakerite surveyed 18 oval homeowners and found that 14 supported lights, or were indifferent, and only four opposed the idea. Based on this majority, Shaker should be able to experience the feeling of “Friday Night Lights.” After all, there was a book, movie and TV series dedicated to them.

Nevertheless, money looms over this possibility. According to cleveland.com, Shaker spent a little under $2 million in 2012 to install the new turf field, track and scoreboard. According to the Sports Turf Management Association, installing stadium lights can cost anywhere from $200,000-$400,000. Is this investment really worth the taxpayers’ money? Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings doesn’t seem to think so. Do you?

This editorial appears in Volume 85, Issue 2 of the Shakerite (November 2014) on page 11.

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