By Will Johnson
EAST TEXAS – The kickoff of the 2020 football season is less than two weeks away and will feature a host of changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most recent change is an end to television blackouts during the regular season.
According to information provided by the University Interscholastic League (UIL), “In an effort to increase accessibility of high school football games and encourage social distancing across Texas, the UIL will allow live telecasts of high school football games on Friday nights during the regular season with the exception of linear telecasts on Sept. 25.”
Only webcasts will be permitted on Friday, Sept. 25.
The UIL defines a telecast “… as any live or tape-delayed video footage of a contest in its entirety that can be transmitted through television, Internet Web stream, Webcast, video podcast, smart phone apps, tablet computer apps, closed-circuit channels, weather cameras or any other medium.”
Under Section 868 (c) of the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules, UIL member schools were prohibited from allowing the live telecast of a regular season football game on a Friday night. Postseason games, however, were allowed to be televised if a UIL broadcast rights contract was in place.
This temporary suspension of Section 868(c) is only for the 2020-21 school year and must be done in accordance with following:
- With prior approval by their school administration, the Home Team may have one digital webcast transmitted on the Internet and one linear telecast on television per game, provided that there is adequate space for the Visiting Team webcast production.
- With prior approval by their school administration, the Visiting Team may have one digital webcast transmitted on the Internet per game.
- Webcasts may be on any media platform approved by the school.
- All telecasts must adhere to UIL telecast guidelines and advertisement restrictions.
If announcers are provided as part of the telecast, the following guidelines must be adhered to:
- The telecast should provide announcers who are competent and exhibit professionalism.
- No dramatization shall be made of any unsportsmanlike conduct, incidents or displays on the part of the participants or fans.
- There shall be no destructive criticisms of officials’ decisions.
- No mention shall be made of injuries, unpreventable accidents, or other incidents which may cause any anxiety on the part of the viewers.
The UIL has also provided guidelines for the press box. These are:
- The host venue should make every attempt to accommodate both the Home and Visitor Team production crews for telecasts and webcasts while following all social distancing recommendations, face covering requirements, and other health related recommendations by their local and state authorities.
- Press box capacity should include at least six feet between individuals when possible, and all individuals are required to wear face coverings.
- Schools should limit production crews to those individuals essential to the telecast.
There are also guidelines for what CANNOT be advertised during the telecast. These categories include:
- Political announcements
- Cigarettes or other tobacco product
- Gambling services or venues
- Sexual services or adult entertainment venues
- Alcohol and firearms advertisements
Alleged violations of these provisions fall under the jurisdiction of the District and State Executive Committees. Violations will be subject to the range of penalties listed in the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules. Any negotiations regarding telecasts are at the discretion of the school district and must be in compliance with UIL rules. All revenues generated belong to the entities involved in the agreement.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.