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On Friday night at Collins High School’s newly reopened turf field, the Titans will play host to rival Shelby County High School for the second time in their three years of existence.
The first two games between these two have not been close, but this one looks on paper like it might be a real battle, indicative of a balancing of the playing field and the emergence of a true – if not simply geographic – rivalry. This should be a spectacle and a lot of fun for everyone.
Except for one thing:
Collins has scheduled this game as its Homecoming.
We are sure there are extenuating circumstances that dictated that this one particular week among the five this season when the Titans play at home would be appropriate for welcoming old grads, crowning a queen and all the other festivities that go into creating a big-game atmosphere at Homecoming.
Typically Homecoming opponents are known as “patsies” or “cupcakes” or, more precisely, “the-team-on-your-schedule-you-think-you-most-definitely-will-defeat.” Yes, Homecoming is supposed to be a guaranteed victory to show off for all the visitors. SCHS, for instance, played and defeated Henry County two weeks ago.
And, traditionally, the visitor at Homecoming recognizes this and takes umbrage at the choice, bristling at that indignation, at the disrespect.
So if you are a fan of Shelby County, don’t you find this more than a tad insulting? Do you consider your team to be the one assured victory the Titans saw when they looked at their schedule for this season?
And if you are a fan of the Titans, how would you feel if SCHS invited you to Homecoming? Would you like to be seen in that light?
No, we don’t think any of you would like this, and we don’t think this should be happening. We simply can’t conceive an acceptable reason why it is.
We enjoy these expanding rivalries between the two schools and the new athletes who are rising to form in a variety of sports, and what we have seen since Collins opened in August 2010 is that its early advantage of having more dominant athletic teams is narrowing, slowly but surely. That’s good.
We also have seen simultaneously an acceleration in finger pointing, name-calling and a growing level of insults as firming cornerstones in this rivalry. That isn’t so good.
A good rivalry is built on mutual respect if not exactly brotherhood. It is fostered in good sportsmanship and a higher level of behavior. It is rare.
Shelby County Public Schools likes to discuss its BIG Goals, and although sports isn’t in the same league with ACT scores for importance, we would like to set a BIG goal for having a clean and respectful rivalry that includes limited taunts and a lot of competition. Wouldn’t that be an admirable example for the grownups who play and cheer at higher levels? Sometimes the grownups are the most immature among us.
To that point, we don’t think adding the insult of a Homecoming invitation fosters a good relationship, shows the proper respect or creates that sort of rivalry of character we all should pursue.
For this season, the schedule is set, the queen will be crowned and the deal is done.
But let’s don’t let this happen again. Memo to SCHS: No need to return the favor.
To do so would be an insult to all of us.