You feel the stands around you sink in disappointment. They just can't stop that running back once he's past the line. This was just one more pain for your high school defense to endure. You look up at the clocks. Just 2 minutes left which is enough time for a pretty productive offensive drive but not much else and everything has to go well. Somehow, you managed to match their offensive power with your own scoring and you're only down 4 points. There's still a chance but that clock...the clock is your enemy now. You don't have all night to catch up...you have 2 minutes.
It's hard to think of any high school sport without the clock making its way into the conversation. That's part of what we love about prep sports...each team is competing against each other but also against the clock. Information There's a finality to any game. We will know who the winner is after a certain period of time. Let's look at the average game lengths for most high school games.
First we'll start with football. American high school football has 4 quarters of 12 minutes each quarter. Traditionally, there's a half time in between the two halves of 12 minutes as well. The actual length of the game can go quite a bit longer however. That's the actual time of play on the clock. There are lots of time when the clock isn't running. Typically, the clock is stopped when running out of bounds, after incomplete passes, and during other key events in the game. This can almost double the length of actual game even though the clock still shows the 48 minutes of "official" time.
High School basketball is slightly shorter on average than football and for good reason. It's incredibly exhausting physically and all players play both offense and defense. Information There's not much downtime. Half time will generally run 10 minutes in between the two halves. Again, the clock will typically stop for many events in the game such as fouls, out-of-bounds, time-outs, and a few others. Foul shots alone can significantly increase the length of the game since they can be quite common depending on how physical the game is and how strict the officiating may be.
High School baseball's a little different. With baseball, you typically have 7 innings. An inning is a chance for both teams at bat until they reach 3 outs so to some extent, the game length is independent of a clock. A dominant hitting team or more importantly, a week defensive team can prolong an individual inning into agony (for the defense). If it were to go on extremely long, the game may be called but that's rare. Apparently, in 1975 a high school game went 25 innings and spread over two days. Baseball is unique among high school sports to be untethered from the clock.
Most other high school sports such as soccer, ice hockey, and la crosse are all subject to the clock as well. Some sports deviate from this clock dependency. Golf is obviously dependent on a number of holes. Volleyball can extend for quite some time as it's a first team to a certain score sport and you can only score a point following your serve. Side-out changes possession but not score. Otherwise, the clock is usually present in most sporting events and it typically acts as a 3rd adversary deep in the 4th quarter. Here