Almost every single home basketball game I’ve been to this season for the Carthage boys team, I’ve seen the same things.
Senior Desmond Buerge usually scores at least 20 points. The Tigers usually blow out their opponent. Carthage’s height and talent usually proves too much for the other team to overcome.
And the stands are usually mostly empty, the student section usually silent.
What’s the deal?
I would have thought a team that is currently 14-2 and 8-0 at home would have better support from the home crowd, and the students would be more excited, but that hasn’t been the case.
The most glaring example came Monday night, when Carthage hosted Carl Junction. The Bulldogs don’t have an impressive overall record, but they do have some electric players who are sure to play at the next level. The Tigers won 76-57.
What was disappointing was the contrast between student sections.
Carl Junction’s students were standing the entire game, and constantly engaged in chanting and cheers. But across the court, in the other corner of the gymnasium at Carthage High School, the Carthage student section sat quietly.
In the interest of full disclosure, I went to Carl Junction High School and graduated in 2006. We had good basketball teams when I was there, the student section was always actively involved, and I was usually at the games.
I could care less, however, about promoting my old school and its fan base. This column isn’t about saying Carl Junction has better fans, and when it comes to football, the Bulldogs have far fewer show up to home games than here in Carthage.
My point is this: why is there so much apathy in Carthage toward a basketball team that is having a great season with great players? Why do students show so little interest in coming to the games and doing anything more than sitting and texting?
In all honesty, this is the smallest and quietest student section I’ve seen at a high school this size. When I started working here and saw the gymnasium for the first time, I couldn’t wait for basketball season to begin because I knew it would be an electric atmosphere, and I’ve heard it was that way in the past, even last season.
The Tigers have already beaten the biggest high school in the area twice, and are clearly among the elite of basketball teams in Southwest Missouri.
A district championship is clearly within reach, and this team looks poised to make a run in the playoffs.
And yet visiting Carl Junction, which came to town Monday night with a 5-6 overall record, brought at least as many students as showed up for Carthage, and the Bulldog fans were 10 times as vocal and supportive.
Page 2 of 2 - Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing that Carthage players should ever feel like they’re playing a road game, or even a neutral-site game, on their own home court. The only indication Monday night the Tigers were at home was the giant orange Tiger at center court and the legion of empty blue seats.
The season is already more than halfway over. The boys have three home games remaining, and the girls have four.
It would be a nice gesture if Carthage students showed their teams they care, and rewarded the Tigers for winning with a few cheers now and then, maybe some yelling, and perhaps even getting out of their seats a few times. Not to go to the concessions stand, but to show a little school pride.
You only get to be in high school once, and some of my fondest memories at Carl Junction were going to the basketball games and standing in the student section.
Of course, I also remember Webb City knocking us out in the district championship, but that’s another story.