Tom Suiter: Football Friday’s Back
The endowment week in high school football has passed, and this Friday marks the official start of the 2006 season and at WRAL-TV, we will begin our 26th season of our little show called “Football Friday.”
WRAL-TV Sports Anchor Tom Suiter
Back in 1981, Bob Holliday, Jay Jennings (whose son now works in our sports department) and myself — that was our entire sports department back then — wanted to make Friday nights in the fall special.
Football Friday grew out of the positive experiences that we all had during our high school years, and after a modest beginning of covering just a few games, the show has now evolved to the point that each week our goal is to have a camera at 28 different high school games.
It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of coordination, but it’s fun and something of which all of us who work on the show are very proud.
This year’s show will have a different look.
For starters, we won’t have a studio audience. Since 1995, we have invited different schools each week to be a part of the program. This was a lot of fun for me, personally, and added a great deal of energy to the broadcast. But good things do come to an end, and business is business, and change is always inevitable.
As you may know, WRAL has become the station of the new North Carolina Education Lottery, and this is a huge undertaking and commitment. The lottery broadcast — which, as you can imagine, will require much space and security — will be taking over Studio A where we did Football Friday. So, we will have to move back to the news studio, which just doesn’t have the room for football players, band members and cheerleaders.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who took the time to come and be a part of Football Friday these past 11 years. I know it took some time and effort on the part of many coaches and administrators; and please know that we very much appreciated all your efforts, and you really did help make Football Friday better for it.
However, the show will go on, and one very positive thing is that by working out of our newsroom studio, the entire program will now be in high-definition television. We will also have our photographers shoot on the scene “teases” and “bumpers” with cheerleaders, bands and students and will feature, as we have for years, various high school bands for our show-ending Football Friday scoreboard.
And of course, the key to Football Friday has been our award-winning photographers shooting highlights from as many games as we can get them to.
Also this year, we plan on having a featured game of the week. We will do a live shot from that game during our 6 p.m. sportscast and then, that will be the headlined game later that night on Football Friday.
This weeks’ featured game will be what we think will be a good one, East Wake at Wake Forest-Rolesville.
Also WRAL.com will provide special Friday-night coverage that will take Football Friday a step further with expanded efforts from around the area and state with video clips and summaries of key games. It will all add up to what, I believe, will be an amazing high school football season.
High school sports have always been very important to me. I have so much admiration for those who coach at this level. High school coaches put in so much time and so much effort and without a lot of additional pay, but the influence that they have on those they coach can last a lifetime. I really can’t put into words the respect I have for them.
And for the athletes, it’s the chance to be a part of a team, to be a part of something very special. It’s the chance to play your heart out and to have fun doing it. And it’s the chance to learn sportsmanship — how to win humbly and to lose graciously.
I know, playing sports in high school helped prepare me for life, and I know it’s done the same for countless others.
So if you have any Football Friday suggestions for us please let us know, and don’t forget, we also will start in a couple of weeks our weekly Extra Effort Award. If you have anyone you’d like to nominate, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh yeah, and please don’t forget to call in your scores at 1-888-472-9725. Getting those scores and getting them correctly isn’t as easy as you might think.