"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Award from Vikings no cause for exuberance

News can get screwed up a little as it gets dispensed word of mouth. Last Wednesday evening (10/19), I caught wind of how our high school football team was named "best in the state." My first thought: Didn't we lose to BOLD? I articulated this and was met with a puzzled look. Another person said we were honored as the "best football program in the state." So I wondered: better than Eden Prairie? Cretin-Derham Hall?
Turns out the award is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Vikings. Getting this award is like being honored by a tobacco company. The Minnesota Vikings are a behemoth commercial entertainment enterprise. It presents us with a product that abuses its player/employees, rendering them in a delicate state with serious impairments in many cases. The mental impairments have been getting special attention over the last couple years.
I don't see the point of awards like what Tiger football got. It probably comes down to a good application writer, as in grant application writer. We were chosen from among 140 programs that were "nominated," we learn through the local newspaper.
Notice how small the Morris newspaper was Saturday? Twenty pages, which is being seen more often as the print media continue its retreat. If it's this small now, a couple weeks before a national election, how small will it be right after Christmas, the traditional "down" time for papers? You're getting less of a product for your money.
If Senior Perspective can be free to readers, why can't the Morris paper?
How can 140 high school football programs possibly be compared in any meaningful way? Is this just public relations for the Minnesota Vikings?
I remember being at Pizza Hut once to photograph the winner of a trip to see the Vikings. The person was chosen at random coming in the door. Turns out, this "winner" belonged to a local church that has no time for professional football. She turned down the prize. At the time, I thought her position a bit extreme, but today I'd say amen and hallelujah. I remember talking with her when the matter was settled, and she said "I don't support it" in regard to NFL football. More and more people are adopting that stance, making them seem less like outliers. Television ratings for the pro game are steadily going down, especially for the prime time games.
Surely our Big Cat Stadium fueled our pitch for getting the award. We wouldn't have that plum, if it were not for the presence of UMM in our community. So the scale was tilted toward us, unfairly one might argue.
I smiled as I realized how this award would be cause for such parochial chest-thumping in Morris. "We're best in the state!" People in the Twin Cities (like in Eden Prairie) would be amused at this exhibit of local pride among us Greater Minnesota folks. (It's a better term than "outstate.")
I'm being harsh but also realistic because there's no cause for pride in connection to football. The health revelations should cause us to close the door on this in short order. The empirical data is irrefutable.
We see a photo on page 1 of a couple females in short skirts and uniforms, what many men (like Donald Trump) would call "babes," holding a banner saying "congratulations Morris." (Trump might rate them an "8".) An announcement is being made in front of a packed MAHS gym, where it appears a spirit rally was called in connection to the award.
Our school gets $10,000 in connection with the award. Representatives of the Vikings were here. An MACA player was quoted saying he was "speechless." But he found the word "amazing."
The award affirms a strong connection between team and community, we're told. We read that "the turnout at the games is amazing." Cheers are in fact the elixir that keeps boys playing the violent sport of football. If the fans would stop coming, the game would wither away. Fans are the essential lifeblood.
The article quotes a player saying the Tigers were 7-0. That can't be, considering we lost to BOLD. But the ecstasy is such, maybe a little embellishment can be excused.
Brett Taber, a Vikings representative, was quoted saying our "marching band" is part of the mix. I haven't attended a game this year. But I'm skeptical we have a "marching band." If we did, it would perform in the Homecoming parade, which I did attend. It would be nice to see a high school marching band in the Prairie Pioneer Days parade. I have even suggested that Hancock's marching band, which performs for their July 4, come to Morris and march for Prairie Pioneer Days. Might be embarrassing for us, though.
We certainly have a viable high school football program that benefits from Big Cat Stadium. I would have preferred seeing UMM get Humanities Phase III constructed, over that football field which sits cold and empty all winter. Our sense of priorities can get thrown off-kilter.
Our high school football program is good enough to fill its purpose nicely, but I'm not sure we should seek some puffy award co-sponsored by the entertainment company known as the Vikings, whose purpose is a world apart from high school activities. NFL football is brutal.
Mike Barnicle of MSNBC says "if you ever sit at field-level for an NFL football game, you'll never allow your son to play football."
Page 1 of the fishwrap also announced an upcoming featured speaker for our community: Ben Utecht, a former pro football player. My, how we keep feeding the beast. Let's all step back, take a deep breath and be more restrained in our enthusiasm about all this. For the sake of the kids.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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