Opinion: Bobcats victorious in 2004
For the past three months the Basehor-Linwood boys and girls basketball teams have showed all the qualities that make sports great.
No, their records weren't great, but that's not why real fans watch sports. People who watch only to see their teams win are called "bandwagon fans."
All fans want to see their teams win, but real fans continue to support teams that work hard, work together and improve as the season goes on.
By those measures, any real Basehor-Linwood fan should be satisfied.
What shouldn't get lost in the teams' poor early season performances and first-round playoff exits is what happened in between.
Late in the season both the boys and girls teams fought through all kinds of adversity and played great basketball. There was a whole new atmosphere of optimism and excitement before all of the basketball games in the past few weeks.
Young Bobcats came into their own and made their presences felt. Mike Armstrong started squaring up confidently and knocking down jumper after jumper. Samantha Paterson began to dominate stretches of games on both the offensive and defensive ends with her athleticism.
Bobcat seniors forced pain from their minds and played through injury. Brett Dowdall was on crutches at Friday's De Soto game, but on the floor Tuesday against Piper.
Alex Jeannin finished Friday's game at De Soto with tape around her sore left knee and ankle and a heavy brace covering the ACL tear in her left knee.
NBA players, who make millions of dollars, sit out games for lesser injuries than these. Dowdall and Jeannin played, not for money or fame, but for love of their teammates and love of the game.
Unfortunately a lot of people missed out on these heroics. A lot of people didn't get to see the two basketball teams turn their seasons around late in the year.
With the notable exception of a core group of real fans, the basketball teams didn't enjoy a whole lot of support.
Opposing teams routinely brought bigger and louder crowds to Basehor, nullifying the Bobcats' home-court advantage.
In a way, that makes their turnarounds even more impressive.
The Bobcats sometimes had to deal with classmates cheering for the opposing team. Instead of hearing constant encouragement from their crowd, they often heard a constant stream of unsolicited advice or loud insults aimed at their coach.
There had to be times when they felt like no one else believed in them, yet they still believed in themselves enough to come on strong at the end of the year.
There's a great scene in the movie "Hoosiers" where Gene Hackman, playing a high school basketball coach, addresses a crowd of dissatisfied fans at a preseason pep rally.
"These six individuals have made a choice to work, a choice to sacrifice, to put themselves on the line 23 nights in the next four months to represent you," Hackman says. "That kind of commitment and effort deserves and demands your respect."
The same could be said about the BLHS boys and girls basketball teams of 2004. So next time you recognize a BLHS basketball player, thank them. They represented your school and your town with class, heart and determination.