St. Edward and Maple Heights celebrated state high school football titles last weekend, while officials from the Ohio High School Athletic Association lamented yet another decline in tournament attendance.
The six championship games played this year drew just over 35,500 fans — about 3,500 less than last year, which was 9,000 less than the year before that. And those numbers matter: Football tournament revenue accounts for a third of the OHSAA’s $12 million annual budget.
Of course, the falloff is not a sign of our waning lust for pigskin, but of our longstanding passion for sitting on the couch: SportsTime Ohio broadcast all six state championship games this year, in addition to six playoff games leading up to championship weekend. All but two of those games were produced in stunning high definition, thus further cementing our devotion to climate-controlled viewing.
But for those who favor the firsthand thrill of frozen extremities, there will be plenty of room to stretch out. This year’s title games were played at Tiger Stadium in Massillon (capacity 16,600). In four years, the action moves to 100,000-seat Ohio Stadium in Columbus, where each paying ticketholder gets his own luxury box.