Day one and entry number one into Bob’s Sports Blog. When I was asked to do a blog I knew writing about sports was the way to go. It’s a chance to put my sports emotions into words and also share accomplishments of local athletes and teams. As a sports broadcaster that’s “hooked” on Whitworth University, a fanatic of Gonzaga and EWU, an owner of 2 chairs out of the old Boone Street Barn, a guy who can’t wait for the opening pitch of every Spokane Indians game, a 12 for life, (if I have to explain that you don’t need to know) and a Spokane Lifer, it makes sense that one of the above will be my first entry. But kids could be reading this and I’m not emotionally over the worst officiating job I’ve ever witnessed at a basketball game which occurred this week. So I won’t begin with Whitworth Basketball! Instead – I bring you the chair gripping topic of high school pep bands! What?
I was asked to broadcast a District 1 – 3A Idaho Girls Basketball Tournament this past week. It’s where I began as a broadcaster over 20 years ago. It’s “occasionally” fun to go back to the beginning. The players don’t seem to be as good as I remember, the gyms seem much smaller than the radio picture I used to paint and the crowds have grown smaller over the years. Maybe we all just got too busy. But there is still something refreshing about attending small town high school sports. The first game I did featured the Kellogg Wildcats vs The Lady Badgers from Bonners Ferry. The fans that did travel to the game were more than likely parents or family members, some students and faculty. And of course there were the students that made up the pep bands of each school. Hidden behind the occasional missed note during the National Anthem or ear piercing renditions of the respective school fight songs is the fact that without these students, there would be no atmosphere. There would be less excitement. There would be fewer fans. And there would be fewer opportunities for students.
Students need a place to go beyond just the class room. For the students who don’t make teams or don’t even like sports, where do they go? It’s hard enough for many school districts to balance the sports budgets and afford the programs they have now. And while every student should have the right to make a team and play sports in high school regardless of their ability, it’s not the reality. What is reality is the tight budget that’s forcing more and more programs to be cut in areas like the arts and entertainment. These are programs that directly allow the necessary outlets for students who are learning about what they want to be, developing life skills and providing a safe and positive environment.
I used to wish the band would stop playing so I didn't have to broadcast over the top of another risky attempt at Louie Louie! But let the band play on! Here’s to the pep band. Missed notes and all. You may not be in tomorrow’s paper for scoring the game winning basket, but without you, who is really winning?