Two weekends of bowl games at Giants Stadium are complete and while the quality of play was good, the attendance was not, with Saturday’s attendance for the day was 6,000 and change. Reasons include:
- The rain on both weekends for the Saturday night games on both weekends.
- Fans from South Jersey do not want to drive 1-1/2 to 2 hours and I understand that.
- It’s new and people are not used to the games or the opponents.
- People in New Jersey are used to doing so many other things than in other states.
Whatever the reasons, if they are going to keep playing the bowl games, there are two ways they can go:
- Continue the games at Giants Stadium, regardless of the attendance and money that does or doesn’t come in. They may simply do it for the kids and the kids like it. The people from South Jersey schools I spoke with said the kids were thrilled to be playing in an NFL stadium and that was something I was skeptical about, since many in South Jersey are Eagle fans playing in a stadium that houses a team they don’t like.
- Alternate playing sites every other year between Kean and Rowan. It would be a more intimate setting for all involved, played in front of packed houses. Each end of the state would not have to travel two hours every year, just every other year, while being within reasonable distance the other year.
I choose the second alternative if they are going to continue this way and the bowl game opinion is a very divided one, as is the idea of adding another weekend to determine a statewide public school champion.
Like it or not, I think there will be a statewide final between the north and south champions within five years, probably 2020, if I were a betting man. If that happens, the state finals can be at Rutgers, making it a one hour drive for most of the state. Remember, it’s for the convenience of the entire state, not just North Jersey. It can also be every other year at both Rutgers and Giants Stadium.
For me personally, I can be content any which way it happens:
- Ending it with the sectional finals.
- Ending it with the bowl games or statewide champions.
Whatever games are played, I will observe and enjoy them.
In the end, if they continue with this new way, I would like to see it done right. I understand that an extra game or two can put stress on players and coaches alike, both physically and mentally. There was always the concern of the extra week cutting into the winter sports season, but, this weekend ended no later than it has in the past and for approximately 317 of the 343 high schools that play football, the season ended at the same time or one week earlier.
I am not a fan of starting the season earlier, as I think the season should start right after Labor Day, but then I am not a fan of practicing the entire summer and that is probably more stressful on coaches and players than an extra week of games and also takes away the summer for teenagers.
Let’s do it the right way if they are going to continue.