Chinstraps and Mouthpieces: Earlier start for Saturday events would boost downtown shops
Saturday will be a smorgasbord of sports for Tonganoxie.
With a 4A volleyball sub-state set for the Tonganoxie High School gymnasium and a cross country regional across town on the school district acreage, it's sure to be a busy sports day for the city.
The volleyball tournament will include eight teams, while the regional boasts 13 teams.
One problem looms, though.
Both events begin at 2 p.m. This isn't a major roadblock if supporters are in town for just one event, but some parents could have participants in both.
Staggering the events would be grand, but three letters prevent officials from scheduling one earlier ACT.
The test that colleges put so much stock into is administered Saturday morning. That means that high schools can't start postseason events until the afternoon. The national testing date is important, as good test scores can mean college scholarships. But the test also is given in December and June. Tonganoxie superintendent Richard Erickson said students are encouraged to take the test as many times as they can to help increase test scores, which improves scholarship possibilities.
Not that sports should be put ahead of a national academic test, but perhaps an earlier date would be better. It's tough to find the perfect Saturday when nothing else would be going on, but an earlier fall date would help with fall postseason scheduling. If students had conflicts with the day because of religious beliefs, the test could be taken on a Sunday or Monday in select locations, but that probably doesn't apply to many in Tonganoxie.
Aside from the conflicts, though, Tonganoxie might miss out on something else that's important: the economic impact of the events.
Fans will have to drive through Tonganoxie to get from the volleyball tournament to the cross country course. That should also give them at least a glimpse of Fourth Street, which could entice some shopping down the main drag. But, with neither event starting until mid-afternoon, retailers miss out on prime shopping hours from out-of-towners.
The volleyball tournament might not bring much business to downtown. The bracket is basically a condensed league tournament, with six teams coming from the Kaw Valley League in the eight-team field. Eudora and Bishop-Ward from Kansas City will also be in the tournament. Fans from neighboring towns will still spend money in Tonganoxie, but the cross country meet might attract more people not familiar with the town. That meet has six KVL teams, along with squads from Eudora, Atchison, Baldwin, Kansas City's Bishop Ward, Prairie View, Louisburg, Osawatomie and Spring Hill. That meet will attract some new blood to the area.
After trophies are handed out and celebrations unfold Saturday afternoon, Tonganoxie will have benefited from holding both events. Visitors will spend money and local businesses should get a nice boost from the extra traffic.
If only that extra traffic could last a little longer.
The strange sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area have handcuffed a city, and had a significant impact on local sports.
High school games in the metro area have been moved to venues outside of that area in which only players, coaches and officials know the locations. Luckily the Washington Redskins were playing on the road Sunday. Stirking in broad daylight jives with their pattern, but one would think security at a stadium wouldn't allow for such a ploy.
Now that suspects are in custody in connection with the sniper shootings, let's hope that lives can once again back to normal.
Colleges have some great cheers and chants, but then there's Texas A&M.
The Aggies were in Lawrence for a game against Kansas on Saturday, and they brought plenty of fans.
Cheering is basically a sport at the Big 12 Conference school. There are no Aggie cheerleaders. Instead, five yell leaders instruct fans as to what cheers would be up next through hand signals.
During games, fans are encouraged to get into yelling position bending over with hands placed just above the knees. Fans must properly align their backs, mouth and throat for maximum volume, or so the school's Web site, www.tamu.edu indicates. After home wins, yell leaders are thrown into the Fish Pond on the College Station campus.
The school also refers to freshmen as fish and Texas Longhorn fans as tea-sips. When referring to the University of Texas, Aggies call them "t.u.", making sure not to capitalize the abbreviation in print. One song also has a lyric "Saw Varsity's Horns Off!"
It appears that with all of these chants, the school might have a chip on its shoulder.
But with all of this pent-up "spirit," the coeds also have a lighter, more romantic side. Around midnight the evening before a game, students file into Kyle Field to practice cheers for the upcoming game. If students don't have dates for the game, they hold up lighters to signify they need one. The lights go out for one segment of the practice so students can "practice" kissing their dates. After each touchdown on Saturdays, men grab their dates and plant a kiss on the lips. As an old Aggie saying goes, "When the Aggies score on the field, they score in the stands."
Fans got a fair share of opportunities on Saturday. A&M won, 47-22.
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