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Beginning the end of high school fanaticism

I’ve been writing editorials and watching high school sports for this newspaper for almost 33 years – NO! Don’t stop reading!
In all those years, I don’t remember local high schools having so many outstanding basketball teams with such outstanding players. Down through the years, there have been many exciting teams, good coaches, memorable games, huge moments, great victories, agonizing losses, but I honestly don’t remember so many in one season. This season was extraordinary for many reasons. Three Harrison County teams going to semi-state: Amazing.
Last year, one thing was pleasantly different and very encouraging. When Corydon’s sectional champs lost in the afternoon game in the Washington Regional, a lot of Corydon fans drove over to Loogootee to watch Harrison County rival South Central play in the evening game against Barr-Reeve. South Central had a great team but lost, but it sure was good to see all those fans in black and gold cheering for players in cardinal red and white.
That, it seemed, was the start of something really good.
And then this year, another extraordinary thing happened. When South Central and North Harrison’s girls teams both won their regionals and were preparing to play on the semi-state level of the state tournament, the two schools had a joint pep session at NHHS. That was wonderful, to see two competing schools and their fans join together one night to celebrate the fact that they had very good teams and coaches who were enjoying uncommon success. The word may not have gotten out to everyone in time, but the pep session that night, what we called the “Night of Shooting Stars,” was open to everyone.
But, of course, not everyone chose to come. Not everyone could be there. Lots of Rebel and Cougar fans were there, enjoying a special moment, but not many people from Lanesville or Corydon showed up. In fact, some cars in the parking lot were vandalized, sad to say. The vandals know who they are. They are surely not proud of what they did that night.
Someone said at a Leadership Harrison County session that high school athletic rivalries do more to tear down the sense of community than almost any other thing. It doesn’t have to be that way. Schools can have good strong athletic rivalries without hating each other. That’s anti-social, destructive behavior. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating someone else’s success. Rooting for someone else can make you feel better; it’s healthier to support something rather than wishing it would fail.
For a lot of people, the pep session at Ramsey was a missed opportunity at building community, sportsmanship, friendship, appreciation for gifted athletes and dedicated coaches, and the sport Hoosiers are crazy about.
Corydon had a pep session Friday night before their big moment against Indianapolis Chatard at the Seymour Semi-State the next day. It was one of those events that come along only so often in one’s lifetime. Being somewhat unrealistic, I was hoping to see high school basketball fans from every part of Harrison County discard the negative side of interschool rivalries and come to support a very good team representing Harrison County. It was a great pep session, with a lot of humor and good feelings, but it didn’t set any precedents regarding interschool community building. That’s too bad. We missed another good opportunity.