By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
High school sports are still the best game in town. They’re also the best value for your entertainment dollar.
During my soon to be 20 years in this business on a full-time basis it’s been my privilege to cover some of the best-ever performances by area high school athletes.
It has also come to my attention throughout the seasons of a problem some local high schools are having. The one of declining attendance at sporting events. It’s sad at times going to some schools and watching youngsters continue to give their best effort for their team only to see them doing it before fewer and fewer fans.
There are a lot of factors involved in why attendance is going down. There are too many other things to do is one reason you often hear for the decline. The age of cable and satellite television is certainly a part of that. So is the continuing increase in the quality of televisions that you can watch these programs on all from the comfort of your home. You can turn your TV on and be treated to picture and sound quality that in days gone by you could only find, if you could at all, in a movie theater.
Long gone are the days from my early childhood when there was a choice of three TV networks: the local ABC, CBS and NBC stations, to watch on — as I date myself — a black-and-white TV that you had to get up out of your chair when you wanted to change channels.
There was no ESPN in those days with its variety of channels filling the airwaves with sports 24 hours a day. How did we survive in those days? One way was by supporting the local high school teams. During basketball season the local gym was the place to be on Friday or Saturday night. Gyms were filled to capacity with fans cheering for their local heroes.
Another problem is the fact we have become a much more mobile society. Families are moving into and out of communities on a more regular basis and that can make it harder to take pride in the local high school. There seems to be a feeling among some people that if you don’t have a son, a daughter or a grandchild playing there is less incentive to attend a high school sporting event.
A perfect example of what you might be missing by not attending a basketball game occurred Tuesday night at Elkhart Christian Academy when the Eagles were hosting the Bremen Lions. ECA junior Ryan Kupferschmid drilled an all-time Elkhart County record 11 3-pointers in the contest as the Eagles posted an 80-59 win.
While canning 11 treys in a game is an impressive enough feat by itself it was equally as much fun seeing the excitement on the faces of his fellow players when Kupferschmid swished another one.
ECA coach Ryan Culp informed some of Kupferschmid’s teammates as he approached the record. Still it was hard to tell whether they were just excited about a teammate having a great night or about the team recording a victory.
During a postgame interview, Kupferschmid admitted he had no idea about the record.
“I was just feeling it tonight,” he said. “It was just another game to me.”
In today’s society there seems to be more attention focused on individual accomplishments so it was quite refreshing to hear a young athlete make that kind of statement.
I’m not saying Kupferschmid shouldn’t take pride in his accomplishment. He certainly should. But it seemed like it was more important that his team got the win rather than the personal shooting demonstration he put on.
Two fans of high school basketball — Concord Athletic Director Dave Preheim and his father John — caught my eye when they entered the gym. It’s not unusual to see them at a Concord event since Dave is in charge of the school’s athletic program and John keeps the score book for the boys and girls basketball teams.
It is a little different to see them at an event not involving Concord. But John is a true fan of the game and has seen a game in if not all nearly all of the high school gyms in the state.
That takes some dedication and while I’m not saying you have to embark on an venture like that I would like to encourage you the next time you are looking for something to do consider turning off the television, getting off the couch and going to a local high school sporting event. Since this is Indiana basketball is always a consideration, but there are other sports worthy of your support.
Give it a try. You never know when you might be missing the next record-setting performance by choosing to stay home.