Sports spark civic pride
There can be no doubt that success in sports sparks civic pride. A trip to the state tournament is an item of great civic pleasure and a state title can cause buttons to pop. Of course it isn’t just a Kansas issue. Drive through small towns in many areas of the United States and you’ll see signs proclaiming “home of the 1998 state champions.” Yes, we certainly take pride in winning.
In fact, I’ll go a step further and add most Kansans are proud of basketball at KU, K-State and Wichita State. There was a tremendous outpouring of civic pride when the Royals won the World Series and the Chiefs were Super Bowl champions. Obviously you have got to be pretty mature to remember those events.
Certainly, Basehor-Linwood and Bonner Springs have a lot to be proud of this week. The Bobcats won the State 4A boys’ championship for the second time in four years. The Bonner Springs girls were fourth in the tournament and earlier the Bonner Springs wrestling team was third in the state. The BSHS swimming team was represented at the state meet. Yes, the local boys and girls have had a successful winter.
I think there can be no doubt that success in sports is important to our perception of quality of life. We want our teams to be number one and when they win we have tremendous pride. If they lose we usually aren’t very happy. I know of instances where high schools with losing sports records dropped in the perception of quality in the minds of residents. I suspect in the perception of many people, athletic success is more important than academics and that’s unfortunate.
I remember when Bonner Springs won the state title in 1984, I saw residents at the game that I have never seen at any Braves sporting event before or since. One of the neatest parts of high school sports is that admissions remain affordable. I’ll add that many schools allow free admission for senior citizens.
That civic pride was very evident last Friday for both Bonner Springs and Basehor-Linwood fans. It was a nice day and we decided to take a road trip to Salina for the state tournament in the Bicentennial Center. When I was in the newspaper business last Friday would have been a dream come true. The two local schools playing back-to-back in the state tournament was something that I always thought would be great.
I’ve been to the 4A state tournament in Salina several times back when I was writing sports. The first time was in the “bad old double nickel (55 miles per hour speed limit) days” and it seemed like it took forever. A couple of years later, Bonner was competing and the speed limit was up to 70 miles per hour. Due to the higher speed limit, I think I arrived nearly two hours early. It takes even less time with the limit now 75 miles per hour.
Anyway, Jean, daughter Jill and I took turns driving and it was a pleasant trip. On state tournament day, you always meet school buses heading to Topeka or Manhattan for state meets followed by decorated cars.
The Bonner Springs-McPherson game was particularly interesting to me. My wife is a McPherson graduate and two of our three daughters were born there while I was working for the newspaper. Now, of course, we bleed black and orange and I remain a die-hard Braves fan. I might add that after two years of wearing green and white for Lawrence Free State, it felt good to be back in my “true colors” of orange and black.
A state tournament is a panorama of color. Bonner Springs brought a huge contingent and from handicapped seating, the arena was a clash of Braves’ orange and McPherson red. Incidentally, McPherson has a long tradition of winning basketball and they also have a unique mascot. They are the Bullpups. McPherson College is known as the Bulldogs.
The atmosphere at a state tournament is electric and this was a particularly loud crowd. Certainly there were lots of differences of opinion between the Bonner fans and the officials.
At the end of the game, the color scheme changes to green. The red and orange fans left and were replaced by Pratt and BLHS fans and both schools have green as their main color. All schools had bands and it was a truly exciting experience for both adults and kids alike.
I might add that, win or lose, I am always proud of local young people and their achievements and I urge local residents to take an interest in high school sports and other activities. It is fun to support local young people whether it is sports, music, academics or drama and you will find a whole new reason for community pride.