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Press Box

By Staff | Dec 28, 2016

Ed Parsons

I take in a lot of sporting events over the school year and at most schools I still see faces from the past.

Each school has true fans who look forward to each season no matter what the sport. Real fans who support their teams even when times are tough. Fans who are dedicated to their home town school, the kids and their community. School spirit is an important part of every community.

Recently it was brought to my attention that one of the best ways to keep a small school alive is through positive support from parents, community leaders and fund raising groups. I didn’t know that! I thought it was mostly based on test scores and finances. However, when people lose interest in what’s happening and refuse to work together for a common goal, it becomes obvious there is a problem.

The fastest way to lose a school is in house fighting, gossip, lack of financial help from support groups such as Booster organizations or Alumni. And degrading school personnel.

The observation from this writer has been that school spirit and support is declining and nearly dead. Support for your school, or for that matter, sports in general, should run deep. Recently, I have been at school events where the attendance was so low the school couldn’t make enough money to pay the officials. That is sad!

The trend seems to be if we’re winning, let’s pack the house and fill up the cheering section and rub it in the best we can. However, if we’re losing, there’s no use wasting our time to watch us get clobbered. A coach can win a state championship one year and he’s the greatest coach around. The next year, after the stars have graduated and the team is down, the coach is a jerk and doesn’t know what he’s doing and, unless it is a rivalry game, the place is nearly empty. I believe the coaches who handle the athletes deserve more respect. If you are one of those who have a problem with them, tell them to their face instead of behind their back. I am not talking about any one school in general because it happens everywhere.

I think the kids deserve better from the communities. Pack the gyms and the bleachers and the fields and support the kids. It gives them a feeling of belonging to something special and it makes them work harder to improve their game. They don’t want to hear the negative comments and the boo’s and they don’t want to see the place empty.

You call yourself a fan? Then prove it, go to the games and show your true colors. I heard comments this past week about how hard it is to even find concession workers. I heard about the lack of people willing to join or get involved with Boosters. The question is, why? Why don’t parents want to join a Boosters club? The best support group I’ve ever seen was the old Paden City Athletic Association.

The Tyler Consolidated wrestling team put on a great tournament a couple weeks ago and a lot of work went into it. They had a great hospitality room.

Paden City’s volleyball team had a great tournament this year and a very good event with lots of good food. It didn’t come without a lot of help. Parents need to help out and others need to volunteer. I think the problem occurs when the helpers want to be in control and bypass the school officials and athletic directors.

Many older folks can no longer make it out in cold weather and some can’t get out at all, yet they are often the ones who get stuck doing the work. They aren’t able to organize and work concessions, but many of you are and instead of setting around complaining about the small stuff, get busy and help out.

I worked concessions for many years; I volunteered my time; I coached the little kids and officiated many games in the grasshopper leagues. I worked with kids in sports until I was 63 years old. After a while you get tired, but a true fan still has a desire to help the kids.

We have some great sports fans and school supporters that really care and want to see the kids do well and then you have what I call school and sports hypocrites. They talk a good game, but there is no action, and some have taken their kids out of the community school system. They say it’s for better education and opportunities. I don’t agree! Small schools have much to offer, maybe more than the larger schools.

I often wonder what makes some schools better year in and year out. I think it is fan and parent involvement. Everyone working together to make it happen. Win, lose or draw, they fill the stands, they support their teams and continue to do so when their kids are gone. They don’t talk about the coaches behind their backs and they don’t stir up trouble on Facebook. It takes pride and not just when they are winning. That’s when it’s easy, when they’re losing is when your needed the most.

Paden City and Tyler Consolidated have pretty good support, but they also have a lot of negativity. Believe me I hear it!

The crowd was sparse in the Wildcat girls’ recent win over Hundred at home on a Monday night with little else in town to do. There were about 70 people from both sides.

At a recent boys’ game against Williamstown – a state ranked team – it turned out to be a great game yet there wasn’t enough to fill up both sides. Paden City had a nice crowd on their side, but many were from Williamstown. And by the way for those of you who never made it, you missed a great game between Paden City and Williamstown and an even better one as the Tyler Consolidated Silver Knights defeated Liberty Harrison in double O.T.

I believe this kind of support is what causes the down fall of small schools. When the community including elected officials never attend school functions (unless it’s to get their picture in the paper) the system fails. It starts costing the county more money to keep them open and eventually you lose your school.

Just as an example look at Paden City High School. It’s been a huge part of my life, I went to school there and I sent my kids there. That’s where my allegiance is. I still believe if you live in town you should send your kids there otherwise don’t call yourself a Wildcat. Just my belief, nothing against anyone. Paden City needs all the kids they can get and the loss of hometown kids is slowly bleeding the school system dry. I believe it should be like that in all areas – you live there stay there!

I will tell you this if you lived in Paden City in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s and went to another school; well, I won’t say anymore lets just leave it at that! If you lived in New Martinsville or Sistersville or Middlebourne you would have wanted to attend those schools. Times have changed, however, and we have choices. I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do. I support Tyler Counties school system 100 percent. They have a great school system, but so does Paden City.

Have a safe and Happy New Year.

eparsons@tylerstarnews.com