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By Yelena Serrato /The Hesperian-Beacon—
AUSTIN—The University Interscholastic League will allow live broadcasts of Friday night football games during the 2020 season, a change to the organization’s longtime limitation. UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt announced the decision Wednesday during the organization’s biannual legislative council meetings in response to coronavirus attendance concerns.
“There’s Friday Night Lights elements that still exist in Texas, and we don’t believe COVID-19 is going to do away with that,” Breithaupt said. “But I do believe this is a time for us to stand down on our Friday night broadcast rule.”
The UIL in May expanded Breithaupt’s ability to make temporary modifications to current rules to resolve issues related to the pandemic. He said the decision was made because it is likely that some fans will choose not to attend games this fall, so this one-year modification will allow fans to support their team from home.
“We know this: There will be many people who stay away because they are fearful, particularly our elderly and our senior citizens,” Breithaupt said. “We want to give them a chance to see the game based on what the local district allows.”
UIL will not be involved in specific broadcast decisions. Instead, it will permit each school district to make individual decisions about streaming games on digital or linear platforms. However, both schools must agree on broadcast parameters. The temporary change will only affect football, as the UIL has already permitted all other sports to showcase live events except state championships.
Breithaupt said this year is the only year he hopes this exception is being made.
“I have no notion to carry this forward after this year,” he said. “This will end following this football season.”