How Much Hype Is There For The High School Football Season In South Dakota?
In parts of the United States, High School football sparks as much interest as any pro team in that region.
Places like Georgia, Florida, California and especially Texas have so much interest year in and year out that High School football becomes BIG BUSINESS!
In a state like South Dakota, the interest level isn't even close to that level, nor is the talent. But, I think South Dakota High School football offers some interesting twists that add intrigue to the season at the highest level.
In Sioux Falls, with the Dakota Bowl and Presidents Bowl, you get the perennial in town rivalries played out at both events. Plus, both of these events are the major drawing point for crowds throughout the year.
No regular season game garners the type of hype, nor attendance like those bowl games. Plus, with the weather the way it is in South Dakota, the early season bowl games offer a unique entertainment opportunity in the midst of some usually solid weather.
As the talent level has certainly improved over the years throughout the state, it seems as if the only teams with chances of contending this year for a title in Class AAA, reside in Sioux Falls and without the cross state rivalry, it becomes a regional interest for the sport of High School football.
I see what the attendance looks like on a normal Friday night at Howard Wood Field where the Sioux Falls Public Schools call home and its sometimes generous to use the word "scarce" attendance from the visiting schools that are from outside Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls schools typically have their student sections diminishing in size each year.
There are some easy fixes in my opinion and there are some obvious ones that will take some time.
For beginners, the easy. Add to the concessions, make them a bit more up to date with different varieties. Spice it up a bit, add some value to a ticket by providing better vending options. Then you can focus your attention on site to making sure the audio, video and production of the game is up to par. Volume levels correct, a knowledgeable PA person and good video board work will keep the audience in attendance attentive.
Schools and athletic departments in Sioux Falls and statewide need to step their game up too. In areas where High School football is king, have coaches, administration and others connected to the program sending constant media updates to local outlets, promoting the product more through local businesses and most importantly creating reasons for kids to show up to support their school. For example, more giveaways, contests, music, incentives at school and a better product to cheer for.
As for the product on the field, that becomes harder. More offseason training efforts in South Dakota have increased over the years, helping create a better product in the fall.
That becomes a start, but it is more than that. Its having the top technology, sponsors, training, play books and it doesn't hurt to study what has made football so popular in other states and piggyback off those ideas.
Either way, the sport of high school football in South Dakota has come a long way. A lot more D1 talent is coming out of the state. We have more NFL talent representing us on the highest level.
I would just like to someday see the sport of football at the high school level become the ticket each and every friday night in South Dakota like it is in some other regions of the country because I believe it would help showcase the state's talent and create so many more opportunities for all involved.
** YOU CAN EMAIL JEFF THURN AT JT@ESPN991.COM & FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @JTESPN991