Rivalry should stay on the field

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, October 22, 2003

By Staff
There's definitely been a little extra excitement around town this week, and you only have to look at the front page of today's Standard to see why.
Friday night is the big game, the latest installment in the annual Battle of Murder Creek between T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal High Schools.
Nothing speaks to who we are as southerners more than the energy and enthusiasm we put into our football rivalries, be they at the high school or college levels.
I've never lived in a town where the evening of the biggest local high school game wasn't among the dates everyone had circled on their calendar.
In a lot of ways, all those rivalries and all those games are very much alike. The sound of the bands, the smell of the freshly cut grass wafting up into the stands, the roar of the opposing crowds -- it all hits you in a way that is instantly familiar.
The week leading up to the game is that way too.
There's an extra spring in everyone's step because there's a big game to look forward to Friday night.
Unfortunately, some of the events that take place during the days leading up to the much-anticipated contest are, inevitably, things we'd all like to see avoided.
The pranks that are part of football rivalries are as old as the rivalries themselves. Most of the time, these are good-natured stunts carried out in the name of good fun. They amount to little real harm.
The kids associated with the teams themselves -- the players, cheerleaders, etc. -- don't often take things too far. They've got an outlet Friday night, as the game itself unfolds.
But too often someone, some bonehead with nothing better to do, will take what should have been a week of good, clean fun and turn it into something altogether different.
Cars, homes, ballfields and school buildings are common targets when these sorts of shenanigans get out of hand, and all are expensive things to put right when they've been vandalized.
School district officials and local law enforcement are no doubt on the look-out for any would-be pranksters with property damage in mind as this week progresses, as well they should be.
The sheriff's department ran a notice in this paper a couple of weeks ago saying as much.
To quote that article, which referenced this week's game, Halloween and other events around which vandalism typically occurs: "Although it's all in fun, these actions will not be tolerated…"
A football rivalry, no matter how intense, is no excuse for destroying someone else's property, or another school district's facilities.
Here's hoping anyone with a mind to take things too far, and twist a fun week into something it shouldn't be, keeps this warning in mind.
The contest that plays out on the field Friday night will no doubt be hard-fought and tightly contested, but clean. That's the way the players are taught to take care of their business between the lines.
When Saturday morning rolls around, we should all hope the same can be said for what's gone on off the field.