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Fans crucial Friday in semifinal contests

In every sporting event they are a must.

No, I don’t mean footballs, baseball bats or gloves: Fans.

They are needed, and, believe it or not, could mean the difference in a win or a loss. Even if they don’t realize it or their child doesn’t like it – sometimes parents get too loud – fans are an absolute necessity at sporting functions. They are appreciated by both the players and coaches.

Fans help keep a team’s spirit up when things are going well and especially when things are not going in their favorite team’s favor.

Fans help get other fans, parents and the student bodies worked up into a frenzy when a good play is performed or a bad officiating call is made. Fans make sporting events.

Friday night in both Butler and Crenshaw counties, fans will be crucial. The sixth-ranked Greenville Tigers will host No. 2 Vigor in the Class 5A semifinals, while cross-county rivals – Luverne and Highland Home – will face off in a Class 2A semifinal battle in the Squadron’s territory. With the games quickly approaching, ask yourself these few questions:

Am I giving my child’s team enough support?

Am I a good alumnus?

Have I supported my local high schools?

Have I given my favorite team needed support?

When attending games, I’ve noticed that fan participation at high school sporting events is down from when this journalist got his start in the business. And once football season is over, most supporters – parents excluded – of local high school teams forget the other sports played throughout the year. Gates decline during basketball season and continue to slide during baseball and softball season. And forget volleyball and track, the stands usually compare to the streets of a ghost town.

Yes, there’s still the same fans that fill the bleachers and frequent gymnasiums each year. Some have children catching touchdown passes, shooting three-pointers or slapping home runs, others are dedicated alumni that stay involved after they have moved on. But where is everyone else? Where’s the student body? Where’s the support?

Maybe the team that fans have supported for years isn’t doing so hot this season. Or maybe they are in a rebuilding year. Or maybe the season for the team you support is over. Take it from me, talent is on the rise among many young athletes in Greenville and the surrounding areas, which make up the local high school teams.

So, dig into your wallet and pay the $8 it costs to attend a high school sporting event. Not only does doing so help encourage the players on the field to do better with your cheers, but the funds also help keep the sports operating for future athletes to enjoy.

You never know, maybe the extra voice in the crowd could motivate a football player to break through the line for the winning touchdown, the baseball player to rip the game-winning double or a long-distance runner to muster up the extra strength to finish the last mile and claim the title for his or her school.

Friday night, be sure to attend one of the two semifinal games in the area. It is nearly unheard of for two semifinal games to be played in such close proximity. Greenville High School head coach Josh McLendon, his staff and players, the students and faculty and your town deserve a sellout crowd at Tiger Stadium.

So, bundle up and head out to the games and cheer on your favorite teams.