The possibility of violence has prompted Howard High School to move its home basketball games against rival Tyner from Friday night to Saturday, with the girls' game beginning at noon and the boys set to tip off at about 1:30 p.m.
The change is the result of three recent shootings outside local gymnasiums, including last Friday following Brainerd's game at Howard, when an East Ridge High School student was arrested after allegedly shooting at several cars but not injuring anyone. There previously were shootings near the gyms at Tyner and Brainerd following games against Howard.
"It's extremely upsetting that even though these kids aren't affiliated with Howard, it's happened when we play, so the black eye automatically goes to Howard," said Howard athletic director Michael Calloway. "There has been plenty of security at our games, but the three incidents happened in the parking lot, all after the games were over.
"We just felt like we had to do something to avoid any problems in the future. Maybe [the game-time change] will cut down on the likelihood of anything like what's happened happening again. It's sad, really. But there's been a lot of concern from different people in the community, and that's understandable. It's sad that these kids have no concern for someone else's life or safety."
Player and fan safety has become a concern since the shootings began, and Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith ordered additional security in some gyms for rivalry games. The additional security, however, didn't prevent several cars from being struck last Friday by the gunman.
The change in starting time is similar to moves made in Atlanta, Memphis and Chicago, where gunfire and the threat of violence led high schools in those cities to play games during daytime hours.
Howard hosts Baylor tonight, with the girls' game tipping off at 6 and the boys' game to follow, and as of Monday night there were no plans to adjust those starting times or to have even more security.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...