High school football games are more important than most people realize.
They’re a time when college recruiters take a look at prospective players.
One of the things recruiters look for is a player’s ability to last through the game at peak performance.
Whether you’re in the crowd or a parent of a player, you may wonder how long a high school football game actually lasts.
Here’s what you need to know about high school football games.
How Long Are High School Football Games?
On average, High school football games tend to last from 2 to 2.5 hours.
Each quarter runs for about 12 minutes before the quarter ends.
There’s also a halftime show between the second and third quarters.
The halftime show can last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the high school and show in question.
For example, high schools that use marching bands to perform at the high school tend to run a bit longer during a show.
That’s because the high school band may be competitive and have a show that they take to competitions.
They play at high school football games to practice and show off their skills.
The duration of their show might be a good 15 or 20 minutes long.
Some may run even longer.
As such, a high school football game may sometimes run a bit longer than normal.
High school football games aren’t as long as college or NFL games because they don’t have as many breaks.
There aren’t any commercials running which require the teams to take a TV break.
The quarters are also shorter than they are in the NFL because high school students aren’t professional players yet.
If you plan on watching a high school game, then you should prepare to sit in the stands for at least two hours.
Do High School Football Games Use A Mercy Rule?
Some high school football teams do have a mercy rule.
A mercy rule is when one team is many points ahead of another team.
The gap between them is so high that it would be virtually impossible for the other team to catch up in the time left in the game.
The officials might choose to activate the mercy rule to spare their players any more embarrassment or exhaustion.
A mercy rule can occur in two ways.
The first, and the most popular, way is that the game immediately ends.
This can cut down a high school football game by a lot if the team had an outstanding first half of the game.
The second thing that might happen is the team might choose to let the clock run.
Normally, the game clock stops whenever a play finishes.
It starts again once the team lines up and the play resumes.
Using a mercy rule might make the game clock continue running no matter what.
In this case, the game ends a lot faster since it isn’t continuously stopping.
This can also make a high school football game a lot shorter.
Mercy rules can reduce the amount of time it takes to play high school football.
Why Are High School Football Games So Short?
If you’re used to watching NFL games and college games, then a high school game may seem quite short.
Here are a few reasons high school football games are shorter than NFL and college games.
1. Less Formal
One of the reasons high school football games aren’t as long as NFL games is that they’re less formal.
In the NFL and college, players and teams take themselves more seriously.
That’s because there’s a lot on the line.
Coaches and staff have to show that they put all the money that the university invested in them to good use.
For players, it’s a chance to prove to NFL teams and coaches that they’re a player to consider.
College football, in particular, is a launching pad for players.
Their games are also their first taste of what it’s like to play in the NFL.
You can almost think of college football as an internship.
Players do their best to hone their skills and prove their worth to land the big job after graduation.
With high school football, there isn’t that sort of rigidity.
While some players may take the game seriously, others just play it as a hobby.
While some coaches may take it seriously in the hopes of one day becoming a college or NFL coach, others just coach because no one else would or because they enjoy the game.
High school football is a lot less formal than NFL and college football.
This means it doesn’t have to be quite as long.
2. No Commercials
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons high school football games are short is the lack of commercials.
When you watch an NFL or college game, you can expect commercial breaks.
That’s because college teams and NFL teams get sponsorships.
Broadcasters make a lot of money through ads by showing games.
To ensure they get the most money, they cram as many ads as they can into a game.
This means that the game has to take commercial breaks for the broadcast network to show those ads.
Sometimes the broadcaster can do this during a timeout or when the game clock stops, but in some cases, they have to stop the game itself to show ads.
That isn’t the case in high school.
Most high school games aren’t broadcast on TV.
Those that are don’t stop for ad breaks.
Because there isn’t anything interrupting the game aside from the usual timeouts, the game can run without stopping.
With fewer stops, the game ends up becoming more efficient which means it’s able to play its 12-minute quarters without stopping.
As a result, the game only lasts two to two and a half hours.
3. Halftime Shows
In most cases, high school football games are shorter because they have shorter halftime shows.
Since high school football isn’t as formal as the NFL or college football, they’re not as fussy when it comes to halftime show lengths.
Sometimes, this might mean the band or other entertainers will play a long show.
Usually, it means the halftime show is short.
This is different from college football and the NFL because they have a set amount of time for the halftime show.
The show can only last about 13 minutes for the NFL.
The only exception is the Super Bowl Halftime Show which tends to last 30 minutes.
Because high school football is a bit more laid back, they don’t much care if the show doesn’t last the full 13 minutes or if it goes over it.
High school football games are shorter because their halftime shows aren’t always 13 minutes long.
4. Player Health
A final reason high school games are shorter is player health.
High school players are kids.
They’re growing and building their athleticism.
They’re not professional players yet.
As such, they can’t play for the same amount of time that professional players can.
Professional players have had years to build up their strength and endurance.
High school players are still growing, let alone building their strength and endurance.
Pushing them for too long can have consequences on their bodies which can impact how well they play down the line.
For example, if a high school student pushes himself too hard, then he might get a serious injury.
That injury might impact his performance when he goes on to play in college and the NFL.
It may prevent him from joining the team of his dreams because the staff is aware of how his injury can impact his performance.
If the student hadn’t gone through as much pushing, then he wouldn’t have endured the injury and been able to play at his best in the future.
High school football games are shorter because their players are still kids.
Why Are Football Games So Long?
While high school football games may be on the shorter side, college games and NFL games tend to drag on for a very long time.
Sometimes they last even longer than they normally should.
Here are a few reasons football games last as long as they do.
Football games can last longer than they should because of the weather.
Many NFL teams have indoor stadiums, but others still have outdoor stadiums.
These stadiums are subject to inclement weather.
While the NFL will still play whether it’s raining or snowing, they have to stop if there’s lightning.
That’s because the stadium is basically a giant lightning rod.
Most NFL stadiums are huge and quite tall to accommodate all the fans.
They also often use steel or other types of metal in their construction.
If lightning were to strike, it could seriously injure and even kill people.
The goalposts are another target for lightning.
They stand pretty tall in the air and are attractive to lightning as well.
If players are anywhere near a goal post when lightning strikes it, they could experience serious injuries, too.
This problem becomes even more dangerous when there are puddles of water on the ground.
The good thing about weather delays is that they usually don’t last too long.
When lightning occurs within a certain radius of the stadium, everyone takes cover.
However, storms pass quickly since, by their very nature, they’re moving rapidly.
A weather delay can be as short as five minutes to as long as a half-hour.
Once the lightning clears, the game can continue.
Games last longer when there are weather delays.
An unfortunate reason football games can last a long time is player injury.
Injuries in the NFL and college are serious.
Because these are professional and seasoned players, they usually don’t go down unless they’re really hurting.
A game will pause while an injured player is on the ground.
A medical team will rush to their side to determine how well they are.
The most important thing they need to determine is whether the player can move on their own or if they need assistance.
For example, if the player receives a terrible back injury, then it may be dangerous for the player to move on their own.
In this case, the medical team will need to get more staff on the field as well as a stretcher.
Then they can safely carry the player to the locker room where they can take care of them.
Injury breaks can sometimes last a very long time if it’s bad.
For less-concerning injuries, the delay could be very brief.
It only lasts for as long as it takes for the player to get off of the field.
However, because of how physical the game is, it’s not uncommon to have a few injuries every day.
This can extend its length even further.
3. Halftime Shows
Although football games have a set 13-minute window, which adds to the overall game length.
The problem with halftime shows is that viewers watching on their TVs don’t usually get to see them.
They’re stuck watching ads and commentators discussing the current games and other games going on at the same time.
To those at home, halftime can seem like it’s stretching on forever.
That’s because it isn’t only the show that they’re missing out on.
Sometimes, the stadium will also give out awards during this time or call out senior players to recognize them.
Sometimes shows can last longer than 13 minutes.
If it is a show, then the entertainers also need time to set up for it, then get off the field.
All these small parts end up making the halftime show longer than it’s supposed to be.
While those at the game can watch all this happen, those at home may not know what’s going on.
They’re just watching commercials and commentary.
Halftime shows, and all the things that occur during halftime, are another reason football games last for a long time.
Each coach has a set number of timeouts that they can use at any point during the game.
Most coaches end up saving them for either before the half or during the fourth quarter.
That’s because these are two crucial points of the game.
One wrong call can end up putting the team majorly behind come the third quarter whereas one great call could help the team rebound and eke out a win in the final quarter.
The problem with timeouts is that they make the game last longer.
That’s not just because timeout pauses the game clock either.
It’s because broadcasters use the opportunity to also use the pause as an ad break.
The game will pause even longer because the network then runs a series of ads.
Once the commercials are over, the game is able to continue.
Timeouts, on their own, aren’t terrible, but it’s the tendency for coaches to hoard their timeouts that makes the game last a long time.
One coach might call for a timeout at one point only for the other coach to call time a few minutes later.
Meanwhile, the network gets to show even more ads and extend the length of the game even further.
Timeouts make football last a long time.
5. Replay Reviews
Finally, football games last a long time because of replay reviews.
Whenever there’s a call under review, the game clock pauses.
The referees gather together and look at the play to determine the outcome of their call.
For tough calls, it can take a long time for referees to come to a decision.
Replay reviews can be as short as a minute or as long as 10 minutes.
If there are multiple reviews in a game, that’s even more time added to the game.
Replay reviews make the game last longer.
Does A High School Football Game Last Longer Than An NFL Game?
No, a high school football game does not last longer than an NFL game.
A high school football game tends to last for two hours.
An NFL game tends to last more than three hours.
High school football games last for around two hours but certain factors can make the game last longer or end quickly.
There are also several reasons why high school games aren’t as long as NFL or college games.
While NFL and college games already last for a long time, some factors can make the games last even longer.