Grundy Center to play two Thursday football games due to official shortage
The Grundy Center football team will play not one, but two Thursday night games this season. The schedule changes are due to the official shortage.
The Spartans’ Week 5 game at Waterloo Columbus and Week 8 game at Hudson will now be played a day earlier than previously scheduled. Head Coach Travis Zajac says it’s a societal issue that affects the student-athletes more than anyone.
"Big picture, what it says about our society and where we're at, the people that we need to do these jobs aren't really lining up to do those anymore," Zajac says. "The official shortage is an issue in every sport, and now it's trickled down into small high school football. Ultimately, who does it affect? It affects your kids. We've worked hard to establish a very consistent schedule for our boys, where we play on Friday nights, and Saturdays and Sundays they don't have any football obligations. We come back on Monday and we're off to the races on our next opponent. When you play on Thursday, everything gets accelerated a day. Who does that affect? It affects your kids, and it affects their families. Because now they're going to have to give up some Sunday time for football."
Many officiating crews around the state will officiate games on consecutive nights in order for each game to have an officiating crew and avoid further schedule changes.
Zajac says while the circumstances are not ideal, he and his team will focus on the task at hand, and not worry about what’s out of their control.
"It's something that I have no control over as a head coach. I just have to do the best I can with what we have. We'll build a schedule to get our kids ready to play, and we'll go play Thursday night."
Zajac hopes the schedule changes can raise awareness about the issue, and says officiating is a great way to stay connected to the game.
"My hope is that as high school boys finish their playing careers in whatever sport it might be, if they don't have the inkling to coach someday, maybe they'd want to officiate. It's a great way to continue on in the game, be a positive influence on adults and kids. Hopefully we can build up our official numbers again and not have to put high school kids in a situation where they have to have games postponed or canceled or make schedule adjustments. It's just tough for the kids."
The defending Class A champion Spartans will begin the season Friday, August 25 at Dike-New Hartford.