Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why must they rain on the victory parade?

Is Springfield a town filled with petty and bickering citizens who never miss an opportunity to spew vitriol or rain on someone else’s parade? I only ask because it recently occurred to me, and others, that there are a lot of petty people who spend a good amount of time bickering. I just don’t know if Springfield is unique in this way.

This observation arose after I spent Sunday evening reading the comments posted to the SJ-R’s online coverage of SHG’s run to the state championship. What I saw as a monumental achievement for the team and a source of pride for the community, was viewed by many others as the triumph of evil over good. Or more to the point, the triumph of the elite over the common man, although in the case of the particular people outraged at this event, the word “common” should be replaced by “simple”, or perhaps “pathetic.”

On the articles previewing the game, there were comments predicting that the Cyclones would go down hard in defeat. It’s doubtful that this prognosis was based on football-related knowledge of the team or their opponent; it was simply the wishful thinking of people who couldn’t stand the thought of them prevailing. After SHG won the championship, there were countless comments filled with disgust, accusations of injustice, and outright hatred. Sort of like what the reaction in the comments section here would be like if I announced that the Illinois Times had just won a Pulitzer Price.

Some of the criticism leveled did have merit, although most of it was just the paranoid ramblings from a group of people who obviously have little to be proud of and so would deny others that pleasure.

Yes SHG does have an advantage in that they aren’t restricted by public school boundaries. But this advantage is offset in a number of ways. There is the high cost of tuition, the higher than average academic eligibility requirements, and the IHSA’s multiplier rule designed to keep private schools competing in a higher class. Of course a delusional mind can easily discount these by stating, with all certainty, that SHG football players aren’t required to pay tuition or to go to class, and that they should be competing professionally because they are being paid. The people saying these things are the same ones who claim that the moon landing took place on a Hollywood sound stage and that the CIA is monitoring their thoughts through the neighbor’s satellite dish.

The reason that I asked the question on whether Springfield is unique in its divisiveness is because there were a couple of comments from non-Springfieldians who were amazed at the discord that erupted online over an amateur football game. Are the people in Addison or Bloomington-Normal up in arms because teams from their towns won championships this year and their own hometown alma mater didn’t? I don’t expect everyone to like SHG or to care that they won another state championship, but I do expect that adults would have enough dignity to not publicly condemn the achievements of a bunch of high school kids.

Full disclosure: I did attend Griffin High School, and I also took my elder son to the game in Champaign last Saturday. Perhaps someday he will play football for the Cyclones. We sure could use the money.


Griffin Alum said...

How about a first-hand testimonial Dan?

I recall that you attended Griffin High School and the football team from your junior year made it to the State championship game. Do you recall anyone on that team who did not attend catholic grade schools? If so, did they play a significant role on the team? I can't think of anybody that would apply to.

I noticed that you were not trying to reason with these people. Is that because you feel that it is as fruitless as I do?

They are probably smokers.

Anonymous said...

What I find sad is their disgusting assumption that all the kids enrolled at Griffin are upper-middle/upper class. Disounting the fact that most of our parents sacrificed to send their children to a private school...

I don't know maybe Monkey Boy can give you some insight into the perks he got while wearing the Purple and Gold... those little legs sticking out of the short pants.

Sorry bro.

Signed, Monkey Sister

nancy said...


Have you viewed the audio slideshow on SJR's site? It's short, but oh so sweet. Anybody that could look at those boys' faces and wish them anything but congratulations is pitiful.

Being from a household of Cubs fans, I am used to downright hatred being directed at a team (although I find that too, very disturbing that people can so hate a group of people, even when the members of that group are ever changing, but I digress....)but when talking about a bunch of teenagers as opposed to overpaid "adults", I find the hatred just embarrassing. Like you suggested, no one is mandated to love SHG or root for them, but what drives a person to feel compelled to express such disdain for a bunch of kids? Jealousy and sour grapes I suppose.

Monkey Boy said...


When I first began seeing the word, "vitriol," it appeared in the "letters to the editor" section of the SJ-R. Most often it was included in the letters written by those who vehemently defended "Slick Willie" Clinton. I think you know what I think of those types by now.

The word has now seemed to have caught on and is being widely used by both sides of the fence. I implore you to find a different word as it conjures up horrible thoughts in my small brain. Thoughts that are better left suppressed.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Griffin Alum,

I can't recall any football players who came from the public schools back in my day, although I don't know if it is more common today. I don't think it is a problem if there are, provided that they're paying their own way and making the grade. And yes, I agree that it's fruitless to reason with those who believe that Ken Leonard is handing out SUVs to eighth graders.


I agree, the people complaining want to make it seem as if it is entirely a class issue, ignoring the fact that for many parents it is a sacrifice to send their kids to Catholic schools. Of course to acknowledge that would be to admit that there is something there worth sacrificing for, and they don't want to that.


I have seen the slide show, it's pretty impressive. I don't know where people's hatred comes from. Out at the firefighter's club a couple of weeks ago, I was in the bar area when the highlights of SHG's victory over Metamora came on the news. I saw some guy shaking his head in disgust and then he said how much it bugged him to see SHG win. He probably also boos at Christmas pagaents and thinks the kids who participate in the Special Olympics are overrated.

Monkey Boy,

Vitriol has been in my vocabulary for some time now and I won't let it be stolen by those nasty Clintons.

Thanks for commenting,

Anonymous said...

I graduated from Springfield High School when SHG was Cathedral and all of us SHS girls thought that the Cathedral boys were the hottest guys in town. Wonder if the SHS girls still feel that way? And we enjoyed the short tight basketball shorts they wore. Can't figure why they all wear those big baggy uniforms these days. Now some nun is going to damn me to hell for adolescent memories. :)

Laura said...

Here is my personal account of how SHG 'recruits' players.

My 6 year old son became an SHG fan in earnest last year, when he attended several games en route to the 2005 championship. His loyalty to the team, like that of many kids not yet high school age, does come from a family of long-time SHG fans. But, all on his own, he developed a real enjoyment for watching the Cyclones.

He became particuarly fond of one player in particular last year, #95 Jeff Sanders, especially during his impressive performance in the 2005 championship game. When football season ended and basketball season began, my son was thrilled to see that Sanders was just as talented on the hardwood as the football field.

Eventually Sanders found out that he had a big fan in my son, and took the time to come and meet him following a basketball game. In games after that, he would always say hi to my son, give him a 5, ask him how he was doing, etc. On one occasion they had their picture taken together at center court. And, last weekend at the championship game in Champaign, they ran into each other again, my son in the SHG #95 jersey that he wears in honor of Sanders. Again, Jeff took the time to talk to him and get his picture taken with him. It may seem like a non-event, or even silly, to some, but it thrilled that little boy.

My son, at 6 years old, can't wait to become a Cyclone himself, following in the footsteps of this player he came to admire who has been so kind to him. That's how he's being 'recruited' by SHG - by the caliber of their programs and of their students.

Check out the Jornal-Register when they publish the pictures of Golden Laurel recipients in May, indicating membership in the National Honor Sociey - you will see more than a few SHG athletes among them. Or check out the weekly Students of the Week, and again, you will see a long list of SHG athletes whose accomplishments go far beyond athletics to include academics, social and service involvement. These things speak for themselves, much more strongly than the baseless accusations of SHG's detractors.

Occula said...

Frankly I find it odd that adults who don't have kids on the team really give a crap about a high school sports event in the first place.

Roland Klose said...

Dan, I'm sure Springfield would be thrilled if their locally owned newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize.

Anonymous said...

Your are right that there are a lot of really stupid people out there.....BUT...catholic schools do recruit...don't be naive. And on average they do come from upper middle class and above. That is just a fact.

None of this takes away from the fantastic accomplishment of SHG.

A pagan in Bloomington.

Laura said...


You seem pretty confident in your assertion that Catholic schools recruit. I'm just curious what you know that I don't that makes me naive and you right.

Did you know that 19 of the 22 key players for the Cyclones came from the city's Catholic grade schools? That's my fact - what's yours?

On second thought, never mind, I think we already decided not to employ reason in this debate.

griffin alum said...

Sweet fact Laura! And that probably holds true for the most part since the mid 70's when Griffin became a dynasty in football.

Unless people have first-hand knowledge they can share their speculation is just garbage.

Good job!

monkey boy said...

In regard to Occula's comment I went to her blog site and reminded her that there are people who watch high school sports because it is entertaining to them.

I went on to try to correlate her love of music with other's love of sport and that one should not be so judgmental. Guess what she did?

She deleted my comments. How weak is that? You have a blog site and delete people's comments? She must have been schooled in journalism by Vladimir Putin.

That is why I find it easy to dislike so many people in this world.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


Yes, there are some kids who come to SHG primarily to play football, but as Laura stated, they are in the minority. And to suggest that they were recruited in the same manner that colleges recruit is baseless.

The SJ-R ran a story this year on the father of a former player. The father, who is black, has been involved in the Springfield public schools for a long time and I believe he is currently an assistant coach at Southeast. He said that it was his decision to send his son to SHG because it gave him the best shot at getting a free college education. It worked, his son is on scholarship at Indiana. The father also offered to show his tuition invoices to anyone who doubted that he paid his own way through SHG.

Now let me tell you a story about a public school. In 1986, a small school outside Bloomington starred an undersized, but lightning-quick center. Everyone knew this kid was recruited because they just didn’t make farm boys that small. He too went on to play in college, although briefly. He left the game to pursue his second love at the time, a cute blond named MA. Sound familiar.

Thanks for commenting,

griffin alum said...


Unless I missed it I think you are referring to the article that quoted Andre Pendergrass' father. Pendergrass is still at Lanphier. I don't recall them talking to Kenni Burns' father. But again, I may have missed that episode.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Griffin Alum,

It was Larry Luster's father, Larry Luster.


Occula said...

Putin!?! Thanks for a good laugh, monkeyboy.

griffin alum said...

Larry Luster never saw the field at Indiana. He is currently at SIU I believe. But point well-taken.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Griffin Alum,

I must be confused, I know that there are a couple of SHG alums at Indiana. But Luster, Jr. is on scholarship at SIU, I presume, and it was his father who was interviewed.

Thanks for the clarification,

griffin alum said...

Burns and Sanders are at IU. Luster received a scholarship from IU but I think there was a problem with his grades so he went to a JUCO before landing at SIU.............I think.

Anonymous said...

This is larry luster speaking and i can personally tell u that shg does not recruit this is y.

all the schools in the city have losing records, would u wanna be a loser? not saying that the schools are losers but who wants to lose shg has only had i think 1 losing season in like 35 years and at the hasnt lost to south east in like 40 years or something like that hahaha. (my dads a teacher there)

if you realy look back we can honestly say that shg has no real true talented athletes maybe one or 2 a class and maybe one d-1 signee

the reason that shg wins is simple, disipline. If youl would ever go to an shg workout u would be amazed at the amount of character that Coach Leonard puts into all the players we all buy into the system and thats it. he runs a dictatorship over the football team. We get no special privaledges expect we might get outta school early or something like that for a game but thats about it and the fact that we are always in the public eye and people wait for us to mess up but if u have any real questions about shg football or want to bring up a legit agrguement about recruiting ask me i know i will tell u. Coach Leonard doesnt do it period e-mail me and i will tell you everything u want to know. and the reason that everyone that isnt an shg fan hates shg is basiclly jealousy. everyone wants to be at the top shg got there and stayed there and wont leave so everyone assumes they cheat. We all know what assume does makes an a** out u and me