THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Friday nights are for kids, big and small

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The crowd was mesmerized by the young boys running around on the Lake City High football field Friday night.

Yes, many were there to watch the Lake City High football team take on the Ferris Saxons from Spokane.

But many others were there to watch their little “Fitz League” (third- and fourth-grade) football players entertain the crowd at halftime with a mini-game.

(I’m not sure what was more fun — watching the kids play, or watching the parents watch their kids play.)

Meanwhile, on the TV, the Washington State Cougars were in the process of a comeback that would lead to a victory over some other Cougars, from Houston.

What’s a sports fan to do?

THAT KIND of choice shouldn’t happen.

Look, I get it.

The Pac-12 needs the exposure. Not only is the league fairly average in football these days, nobody outside of the West seems to know who the star players are.

Their house network is unavailable in many homes, and many of their games kick off when much of the country is going to bed.

The locals were aghast this week that folks in the East didn’t know who Gardner Minshew was, even though he and his mustache led the nation in passing last season as a grad transfer at WSU.

But really, who could blame them? The Cougs had three games last year that kicked off at 7:30 p.m. or later — 10:30 in the East. How many games would you sit down and watch if it didn’t start until 10:30 at night?

SO THAT’S fine.

If WSU and the Pac-12 need to play on oddball nights to get attention, fine.

But play on Thursday, not Friday.

It’s even worse in the Boise area.

The Broncos play several games each season on Friday nights, for the exposure and the money. That’s fine, but especially when BSU plays at home on a Friday night, all other forms of life in the Treasure Valley grinds to a halt.

Many high school games that week are banished to Thursday nights or Saturdays. If they choose to still play on Friday, they’re often an afterthought to Boise State.

Heck, the MAC and the Sun Belt play on Tuesdays and Wednesdays late in the season, with no problem. Just have a bye the week before, and there you go.

Even the NFL is smart enough to play on Thursdays and not Fridays.

Leave Friday nights to the preps.

That way, you’re not faced with having to tell little Johnny you had to miss his game to watch the Cougs.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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