Rine: Take it Easy on Prep Athletes, Coaches

WHEELING – A number of times in this space you’ve read about my fondness for message boards. I enjoy those forums for a couple reasons, with the first being I like to debate (anyone who knows me is aware that means argue). Also, it’s a way to keep connected with other parts of the state.

Recently, though, I have discovered a pretty disheartening trend taking place. More and more frequently I’m watching as observers are tearing down prep players and their coaches.

When did this become acceptable? As far as coaches go, they’re fair game but only to an extent. When you have a public job people are going to let their opinions be known – trust me, I know – in terms of whether you’re ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’

But it crosses a line when you start dissecting a player’s performance in the prep arena. Teenagers have enough angst just trying to get dressed in the morning, making sure they pick out that special shirt that nobody will make fun of. We, as adults and even some school administrators, are supposed to pick our children up, not tear them down.

The real problem, though, and this is going to sound hypocritical because it is the very thing that puts food on my family’s table, is that some in society place far too much emphasis on what goes on down at the stadium on a given night. These kids don’t make a dime and the tickets don’t cost a fortune.

What I’m trying to say is, this is supposed to be about fun. These players are doing their very best to entertain us, but sometimes they make mistakes.

So what?

It’s a game, for crying out loud.

It’s no wonder the days of coaches sticking around for 30 have passed, for the most part. Too many people have too much say in programs.

Take That, Big Boys

We generally talk about athletics in terms of ”revenue” and so-called ”non-revenue” at the prep level, but it appears by looking at the figures from the Ohio state tournaments that we may have the wrong sports pegged in those holes.

According to recent numbers released by the OHSAA, the regional and state baseball tournaments operated at a $15,155 loss, with a total attendance of 27,064 (12,558 for the state tournament at Huntington Park in Columbus). The softball tournaments operated at a $4,629 loss, with a total attendance of 20,015 (8,292 for state tournament at Akron Firestone Stadium). The boys’ tennis tournaments operated at a $5,478 loss, with a total attendance of 1,090 (state tournament only).

But track and field is apparently where the money is. A total of 53,517 (26,097 for the state tournament at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium) fans showed up, meaning the events were in the black by $14,446.

Now you tell me who is making the money.

The Ice is Down

You read that subhead correctly. The ice was painted Tuesday at WesBanco Arena, in preparation for the first Wheeling Nailers game which is 34 days from today.

That’s difficult to comprehend because it seems as though the 2010 season just concluded. But if the home team is making a deep run into the postseason, that’s the kind of good price you’re willing to pay.

Despite all the player signings having not been announced, there’s considerable buzz going around as Coach Stan Drulia prepares for his second season. And he’s got a proven winner beside him, too, in recently added assistant coach Clark Donatelli. All he did was represent the United States twice, including being named captain of Team USA in 1992.

Do you have your tickets?

Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net