High School Football: Too Big-Time for its Britches, Says One Writer

Dunno if you read this Friday, but Slate previewed Saturday night's Miami Northwestern-Southlake Carroll game with an essay by Robert Andrew Powell, author of We Own This Game: A Season the in the Adult World of Youth Football. Even before Northwestern toppled Southlake Carroll 29-21 in front 31,896 on the SMU campus -- all them turnovers, geez -- Powell was condemning the nationally televised game, because:

... Nothing could be less constructive for Northwestern -- or any high school, for that matter -- than to become a "national program." After a decade following prep sports, I can say this with confidence: When a dynasty emerges in high-school sports, there's probably something crooked going on.
There's more. Plenty more -- including the fact the story's illustrated not with a Northwestern photo, but one of a celebratin' Dragon. Powell also writes:

I had to laugh when Ronnie Tipps, Southlake Carroll's athletic director, expressed shock that an offshore sports book was taking bets on the Northwestern game. "High school football is one of the purest forms of entertainment," said Tipps. "It just irritates me that [gambling] drifts down to the high school level."

Oh, please. Jeweler Bailey Banks & Biddle is the exclusive advertiser at Southlake Carroll's stadium. Tipps might recall that he is allowing ESPN to televise the Northwestern game, Carroll's fourth national broadcast in four years. And perhaps Mr. Tipps can fill us in on what's pure, exactly, about flying a head coach and a couple of assistants to Miami for advance scouting of a high-school opponent.

In the end, Powell wonders what Southlake and Northwestern had to gain from the ESPNU appearance Saturday night. Far as he's concerned, high school football should be small-time and statewide, at best. Riley Dodge probably feels the same way this morning, come to think of it. --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky