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Can you connect the dots?

What do Dick Dale, Joe Cain and Mr. Potato Head have in common? It might take a mighty stretch of the imagination to connect those dots, but I think it can be done.

Dick Dale is the King of the Surf Guitar. Surf music is a celebration of life and summertime fun. Joe Cain Day is a fun celebration. Mr. Potato Head is just plain fun (although I’m told he was more fun back in the days when he was a real potato, not a plastic one).



See what I mean?




Now try a harder one. High school sports and so many problems with fights and violence that students are banned from the games.

Too big a stretch?

Not if you live in Lake Tahoe area. The Tahoe Daily Tribune ran a story on the front page about it just last week.

Incline High School and Whitell High School made the decision to close their basketball games to all but parents, players, media and coaches – and they need to be on a list prepared by each school.

“The action followed deteriorating sportsmanship and increasing violence involving the Lake Tahoe rivals, capped by a Jan. 19 incident where a gun was brought to a game at Whitell,” the story said.

No matter how hard you try, there’s no way to make the jump to connect these two elements. Violence and prep sports don’t belong in the same gym, on the same field, or even in the same column of type.

It’s unfortunate that things can get to the point where students can’t attend high school games.

Well … at least that kind of thing would never happen here.

There are a lot of reasons that we can cite to back that assertion: We have a good standard of living, our kids are smarter than that, none of our rivalries are that intense.

I wouldn’t be too sure of any of them.

The schools in the Tahoe area could have cited any of those reasons too, but that hasn’t stopped the feud between the two schools from escalating.

There’s actually a pathetic quality to it. Students from two well-off high schools wanting to rumble. If it wasn’t so out of hand, it would be laughable – sort of like the idea of upper-middle-class punk rockers.

What do they really have to fight about? What do any of us have to fight about? Getting a closer spot at the grocery store, the steamed milk on our cappuccinos not being properly fluffy, our team getting a bad whistle?

Nope. I hate to point out the obvious, but not one of these things are fightable offenses – and I really, really like to have my coffee done right.

Anyway, as adults, the ball’s in our court. If we’re going to teach by example, let’s just make it a good one.

Me … I’m going to decorate my Mr. Potato Head with Joe Cain beads while listening to Dick Dale blaze some blistering tunes. And I’m also going to hope that I never have to write that our kids can’t attend high school games.

Shawn Swillinger is sports editor at The Union.


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