Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Chinstraps & Mouthpieces: The joys of summer capture attention

June 27, 2001

Summer is a time for things such as swimming, playing baseball, going to the lake or, for college graduates, finding a job in the real world.

Being a May college graduate, I relate to the final example. After walking down the Campanile Hill at the University of Kansas, it was time to say goodbye to late-night runs to Taco Bell and student loans and hello to contributing to a city newspaper and of course one's own desk.

And so, graduate seeks job, newspaper needs writer, graduate accepts job, graduate enjoys opportunity covering a 4A school.

My colleagues have given me a few tours of the town, so I'm slowly getting the feel for Tonganoxie. Although I'll wear a few hats, I have always been involved in sports and more than likely will continue that trend for some time. With that in mind, I've paid a little more attention to the sports venues on school campus. The athletic complex looks impressive, and the balcony at the high school gymnasium gives it some distinct flavor. I hope that these places will provide some background for some exciting sports.

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You're probably wondering what the origin of this column is, and, being a football player for eight years, I thought it was appropriate to reflect that in a column.

While playing at Washington High School in Washington, Kan. (the small town northwest of Manhattan, not the Kansas City school), teammates were instructed to yell "chinstraps and mouthpieces" to each other before kickoffs and kickoff returns. This ensured chinstraps were snapped and mouthpieces were in. If they weren't, your team was flagged with a penalty.

Then-WHS coach Dale Bond, who happens to be the father of Tonganoxie assistant coach Matt Bond, didn't really enjoy penalties, so "chinstraps and mouthpieces" was bellowed often.

Although I'm extremely interested in football of any kind (the XFL for roughly 90 minutes), I do have some experience and knowledge of other sports. This mixture of topics correlate with the title of this column it involves various aspects and types of sports. Local, college, or professional, I usually have an opinion about sports. I will attempt to keep criticisms of Kansas State and Missouri to a minimum, but if K-Staters don't like my opinions, they could always move to Wamego.

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Tonganoxie is competing in 7-on-7 football for the first time, and although it's a form of football, it's not all that good. Any football without linemen isn't football. The sport needs those players who never get their names in the papers or are never approached for autographs. Give the linemen credit they deserve and start a lineman league.

The previous opinions would give a person a good idea of what position I played. Unfortunately, lineman need backs and quarterbacks to play, but skill players can compete in scrimmages by competing in the 7-on-7 games. In reality, the leagues do give players some experience and help them prepare for the regular season when they work with the under-appreciated linemen.

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The Tonganoxie Recreation Commission is involved with numerous softball and baseball games, including T-ball. That level won't be found in the scoreboard on the next page because teams don't keep track of scores. The commission is correct in treating the division as strictly developmental. Those athletes will have plenty of years of being reminded if they're winning or losing or how many tackles or points they have.

Talk in Kansas City is monopolized with the debate about the Royals moving downtown to help the team and the older business district.

Although many cities have or are in the process of moving into downtown sites, this isn't necessarily the right move for Kansas City. The move would probably provide some great views and added interest to a once-prosperous franchise, and it would help downtown as well, but Kaufman Stadium isn't an eyesore.

The stadium is unique, and although an interstate highway as a background isn't the most stimulating view for the eyes, it's not terrible.

One argument against Kaufman Stadium according to some people is that it's an aging park. The stadium was built in 1968 33 years old is not aging. Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and it will probably stand for centuries (I'm also a Cubs fan, so there might be extra coverage of Chicago in October).

I was built in 1978, and although the structure needs renovations from time to time and has broken a foot or two, it will probably reach 33 years of age without needing to be disposed of.

The Royals need to pay attention to the guys on the field. If that occurs, the stadium will take care of itself and the "K" will live for a long time.

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