The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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Whitman reacts: Lack of referees, increasing fights influence change in football schedule

Heidi Thalman
The schedule changes were due to a referee shortage and county concerns about violence between rival schools, officials wrote. 

On Aug. 21, MCPS officials released the new football schedule for the 2023 fall season, introducing several changes in the times and rules of the games. The schedule changes were influenced by a referee shortage and county concerns about violence between rival schools, officials wrote

As a result of these changes, Whitman football will not play their next two games on Fridays, and will instead play Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) on Thursday, Oct 19 and Springbrook High School on Oct. 26. Of the four home games the team plays this season, two are on Thursday nights. 

Additionally, MCPS officials have moved some games from 7:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and to weekends at 10:00 a.m. to assist with event management and to prevent brawls between students. They have also limited games to 75% capacity and requires students to present their student ID before entering the game.

Despite these changes, on Sept. 1 five students were charged and arrested following a fight after the BCC versus Walter Johnson football game. Two students were charged with robbery and second degree assault and one student was charged as an adult with armed robbery and second degree assault. The remaining students were charged with first degree assault, the Montgomery County Police Department told Moco360. 

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Senior Rory Marlin, a member of the Whitmaniacs club, believes having Thursday football games discourages student participation and won’t reduce the number of fights across the county.

“I think people will want to be dumb and fight, [so] they’re going to do it anyway,” Marlin said. “Even though the games aren’t on Fridays, which I think is less fun, I still want to be there.”

Freshman Jack Cummings, a cornerback on the football team, thinks that Thursday games can result in loss of sleep and poor academic performance the next morning.

“They’re just changing the day, not changing the students’ actions and behaviors.” Cummings said. “It’s not Friday night lights anymore.”

Another contributing factor to the schedule change was the ongoing referee shortage, said Whitman football coach Sean Pierce. The verbal abuse and threats from parents, coaches and players is a leading factor in the sudden decrease of available referees, ultimately moving the games to Thursday and Sunday, FOX5 wrote.

“In order for our game to be fully staffed in terms of refs, they had to split the days up, on which days we could play games,” Pierce said.

Junior Michaela Colonna believes Thursday games are detrimental to students’ testing abilities the next day and to the high school experience.

“While some people might stay home and not go, I think some people might sacrifice their academics and go to the football game instead,” Colonna said. “[Thursday games] are definitely a different atmosphere, so maybe a little of our high school experience is taken, but having some of the Friday games sprinkled in there helps it.”

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Heidi Thalman
Heidi Thalman, Photo Director
Grade 12 Why did you join the Black and White? to strengthen my photojournalism skills and document my surrounding community. What is your favorite board game? Clue

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    Robin DinsmoreOct 20, 2023 at 11:17 am

    Return to Saturday games. Start some at 10am and others at 3pm. More daylight hours.