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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Isn't it time to get back together?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

When the TSSAA Board of Control met on Thursday to approve district realignments, the results placed DHS in a 6-team district while DCHS was dropped to one involving just four teams.

While looking at the Dyersburg situation, the athletic programs have made out pretty well, but once again no love was shown to Dyer County.

The end result for both is going to be space on the respective schedules that need to be filled. As coaches for both schools face the frenzy of filling out schedules to fill slots, it seems today is the day to throw an idea out there, one that has been missing for a couple of years.

Today, though talk of resuming the series has run rapid ever since it stopped, a few words will be written concerning bringing back a rivalry.

Before going any farther, I should acknowledge that some fans in both the city and the county feel it could be my fault the games were suspended after the football game between the Choctaws and Trojans in 2010.

I guess the blame could be warranted. After all, I did say in 2010 that if the two schools couldn't get along, simply stop playing. However, the very idea that a sportswriter could influence the school directors to cease all athletic activity is absurd to me, but everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

Over the last several weeks I've talked to nearly every coach currently spearheading the respective athletic programs at both schools. The overwhelming majority of coaches would like to see the two schools resume the rivalry. As a matter of fact, I only talked to one that told me they were against it.

Some coaches talked to don't understand why the rivalry was suspended in the first place, but the overwhelming majority seem to agree that doing away with the suspension of play between the two schools is the right thing to do.

I, along with many other fans, agree with those coaches.

After the final football game played in 2010, tensions were high and it seemed more security was being assigned to the contests is both football and basketball. I feel that sent the wrong message, almost like school officials were under the belief that something bad was going to happen sooner or later.

What I said back then was that the games should cease based on how things were going. I believed it then, but I wish I would've kept my mouth shut and let the powers that be sort it out.

By cancelling the rivalry contests, we all lose. The fans lose being able to attend some really exciting contests that provide water-cooler talk throughout the weeks leading up to the contests, but the biggest losers are the young men and women playing the games. As a director of schools, the children's best interests should be the influence in making decisions.

Our community needs the rivalry; the kids playing need it too just like teams across the state and nation do. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, and I truly believe that the majority of fans and players would love to resume the series in all sports. We can all get along, and by playing and bringing everyone together in a time where we need unity, resuming the series could be a larger positive than anyone realizes.

It should be a choice though, not a mandate. If certain coaches don't have an open spot on the schedule and wish not to play, so be it. Forcing the teams to play is the wrong approach since they are no longer in the same classification, but giving the coaches the opportunity to make that choice is the right thing to do.

What would it take for the two schools to get back together? As far as I know it takes nothing more than a handshake between Neel Durbin and Dr. Dwight Hedge. If this is the case, with all due respect to both men, I say get to shaking those hands, gentleman.

If and when the rivalry resumes, and we all know at some point either sooner or later that it will, making it a healthy competition will benefit everyone involved.

There have been several ideas tossed around as to how to make the games ones that are looked forward to as opposed to dreaded. While now isn't the time to divulge those ideas, there are some very interesting thoughts floating around the community.

Another area that would surely benefit both schools if the games were played comes down to revenue, and lots of it.

In football, imagine 4,000 fans in attendance at $5 a head. That's $20,000 before the opening kickoff. In basketball, imagine 2,500 fans paying $5 a head and that's $12,500 before the ball is thrown up for the opening tip. Add in the fact that concession stands will be swamped all game long and the numbers continue to rise.

In a time where the economy is labeled as weak, it seems an easy thing to understand that each school would benefit tremendously financially by resuming the series.

Three years ago I had a knee-jerk reaction and stated that the rivalry should stop before something bad happened. I was wrong.

The coaches and the majority of the community want to see Dyersburg vs. Dyer County on the field of play. The young men and women playing the games deserve to be able to face their neighbor on the field of play too.

Again, to Mr. Durbin and Dr. Hedge, shake hands and let's stand together and make things better than in the past. The two respected leaders have the ball in their court so to speak, and continuing to keep the two schools apart is just wrong.

That's my take on the situation, and I'd love to hear the opinions of others whether you're for the rivalry resuming or not. That my friends is the great thing about opinions, we all have one.

Your comments are welcome at msmith@ stategazette.com

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