Published: 04:53 PM, Thu Aug 09, 2012
Vaughan: Prep football jamboree turning into dog and pony show
Anyone who knows me knows what a passion I have for high school football.
I don't apologize for it being my favorite sport, and there's no question it's the most popular sport in the Cape Fear region.
We see that every year when football season rolls around and fan interest peaks as we begin discussing who is going to be the team to beat.
That is why I can safely say without fear of a strong argument that when it comes to the subject of football jamborees, they are not a hot topic in this area, and it's time to do away with them.
Thursday night I was at Gray's Creek High School for the revamped Cumberland-Robeson Two Rivers Jamboree, the first of two nights of action. The second night was held Thursday at Purnell Swett High School.
I didn't trust my own opinion as being judge and jury on this subject so I asked some other people, and I found the way I felt wasn't an isolated situation.
Once coach put it perfectly. He described the feeling at Gray's Creek Thursday as dog and ponyish.
The coaches and teams just felt the scrimmage was something they had to do to start the season, a duty to perform to kick things off before they could get back to the business of getting ready for the season.
I realize the purpose, at least the original one, behind the scrimmage was the raise money for all the schools.
But the attendance at Gray's Creek last night was pitiful. I don't know if it was because of the weather or lack of interest in the teams that were there or what, but the fans just didn't turn out.
And there was zero atmosphere, no excitement.
There was no cheerleader showcase this year before the jamboree, but from what I was told, when the cheerleading squads were told it wouldn't be held, they didn't even protest. Apparently, they had better things to do.
Part of the problem with the jamboree, in my opinion, is that it's just too big. Even in this year's split form, they still had to start the first scrimmages at 5 p.m. That's because they modified the format because of complaints from the coaches, and allowed the teams an hour and 20 minutes of time on the field.
And that, in itself, is the core of what this problem is all about. Scrimmages are really meant for practice. They are not supposed to be used to show off your team to fans. They are supposed to be used to develop your depth, work on new plays and defensive formations, without fear of adding a loss to your record.
That is why I've never really been a fan of jamborees. I think scrimmages should be left to schools to hold on their home fields. And if they want to bring in jugglers and concessions and hold raffles and let the band play at halftime, more power to them. There's plenty of time for all that because there are just two schools involved, not 20, and they can keep all the money themselves.
There is one more year left in the deal between the Cumberland and Robeson County Schools for this current jamboree proposal. Let's go ahead and honor it, and then let's go back to the way things used to be. Let schools hold scrimmages on their own campuses, and if they want to hold a rock concert or shoot T-shirts in the bleachers at halftime, great.
As long as the teams get in their scrimmage time, that's what really matters.
Scholastic sports editor Earl Vaughan Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3519.