The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

March 13, 2013

MCHS team reflects Madison County values

RICHMOND — Last Sunday, after the Madison Central Boys Basketball Team qualified for the Sweet Sixteen, the school district announced the cancellation of school on Wednesday. Reactions were not all positive.

“Why are they canceling for basketball when they don’t cancel for the academic team? The mock trial team? The school district’s priorities are out of whack. It’s irresponsible,” detractors said.

For starters, the district knew what many didn’t: If attendance at Madison Central was down significantly, the district would have lost funding. If attendance was down at other schools, the district stood to lose even more. Also, because of shared busing, closing just Madison Central is financially impractical.

Secondly, I have taken part in academic competitions and mock trial. While they are unquestionably positive activities for participants, they tend to be boring to most observers. Consequently, audiences for these competitions are not large. The suggestion that school be canceled for activities relatively few watch is premised on false logic.

When I was in middle school, I advanced to the state spelling bee. The entourage who witnessed my spelling exploits – which lasted two obscure words I’ve never heard or seen since – was my mom. Dad had to work.

When my wife and I competed for the national mock trial team at the University of Kentucky College of Law, only our coaches watched. UK Basketball attendance: 20,000, give or take. UK Mock Trial attendance: 4, on the nose. I counted.

Why do fewer people watch academic competitions? Not because they don’t care, but because those activities largely benefit the participants. Academic achievement is its own reward. The benefits are lifelong. While I benefited from academic competitions, I understood they weren’t particularly interesting to watch for those not involved. I never expected a crowd, and I was satisfied to get a day off for myself.

Are Madison County’s sporting priorities out of line? To an extent, my answer is yes – particularly at the youth level. The same holds true for much of the country.

I say this as a youth sports coach and board member, and also a former college athlete. Our kids are playing and practicing too much, too soon, too seriously, and specializing in single sports too young. Playing for fun is going away too fast. Playing for futures is setting in much too early.

Were our sporting priorities out of line last week?

Resoundingly, no.

Even if you ignore the extent to which basketball is woven into the cultural fabric of our Commonwealth, you cannot ignore the magnitude and magnificence of what these children of our community have accomplished, and the manner in which they did so.

A credit to their teachers and coaches, but moreover their families, the young men of the Madison Central boys basketball team carried themselves with grace and poise, on and off the court, in front of the eyes of our state and our children.

We may not get everything right in Richmond, but we are doing something right.

When I can play back news reports for my sons to show them not only the amazing athletic spectacle they witnessed firsthand, but also the player interviews so they can hear the way they speak about their teammates, coaches and opponents, that is special indeed.  

The short-term futures of some team members will be on the court. The futures of the majority of them will not. Their feats on the basketball court provide no insight into their academic lives, but the qualities they exhibited suggest they possess the tools to succeed elsewhere.

Perhaps this is why we feel such civic pride. The young men of our community accomplished something majestic, and elevated all of us in the process. They did it. Their coaches did it. But when we see the quality of the children we are raising in Richmond, not only in terms of sports, but also academics, don’t we all feel a little bit like we did it too?

We hold our breath – again – wondering where Dominique Hawkins will play college ball. What about title-game hero Ken-Jah Bosley, and the indomitable Quan Taylor? Surely they will play on, too.

Hunter Stocker will hit the football field. Daniel Parke and George Walker will move on as well. Even as they go on to other things, they will always feel like our kids, but not in the same way they did while they were still together. When we packed Rupp Arena. When they were our team.

Newspapers and television often lead with the worst aspects of our community. Our state champs have given us a few dreamlike days to bask in what’s best about our community.

They are not all that’s wonderful about Richmond and Madison County, but they are simply the most shining example at this moment, and perhaps at any recent moment. It’s something we feel to our marrows, and our children do three-fold. If ever there was something worth canceling a couple days of school for, that is.

Wesley Browne’s columns in the Richmond Register won a 2011 Kentucky Press Association award.

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • 06.29 CrystalFarewell.jpg Starting over at Head Start

    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
    I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

    What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
    I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

What county fair attraction do you like most?

Amusement rides
Beauty pageants
Flora Hall craft exhibits
Horse shows
Livestock, poultry shows
Truck, tractor pulls
Mud, dirt races
Gospel sing
I like them all
     View Results