Hometown hardware store fights dying school spirit

Silly rules limit fans' ability to cheer on their team

By Emily Patton, Published:

I had black rings under my eyes, I yawned every fourth word and I kept dreaming of buzzers going off in 8 minute increments. I had covered my first Touchstone Energy All “A” Classic; I was tired.

So when I was offered the chance of a three-day weekend, which are rare and precious diamonds to a sports writer, I leapt at it. I went “home,” and I don’t mean my one-bedroom apartment. If there is a certain time in your life where the word “home” must change to “my parents’ house,” I haven’t pinpointed it yet. 

Two hundred miles west of the capital city in Webster County, Ky., is where I’ve lived the longest in my life. It’s where I went to high school, where I was an athlete and where my friends still live. 

And although it is hard for me to get home these days and when I do, it’s even harder for me to leave again, I returned to work last Tuesday. Little did I know that a piece of home was waiting on my desk at work. Someone left two gold Webster County Trojans megaphones sitting next to my computer. It’s a gesture I love. Who they came from I don’t know, but where they came from is a familiar place. 

“Compliments of Dixon Hardware” and “Proudly Supports the Trojans” are written in maroon lettering on each megaphone. You won’t find Dixon Hardware in a Google search. They don’t have a Facebook or Twitter page, but I promise if you’re driving three hours west and stop and ask for directions, it’s a landmark that won’t be missed. Dixon Hardware sits on a corner by the only stoplight in the county seat, and while time has passed by other local businesses, the small hardware store has remained for more than 45 years. 

There isn’t a movie theater in Dixon, no sit-down restaurant, nor drive-thru. But there are sports.  Ever since I can remember, at any Trojan sporting event, the folks at Dixon Hardware have left their signature megaphones, pompoms, beads and T-shirts for fans — anything to make the game better.

Standing support 

And it did. No one sat at basketball games. The student section always vastly outnumbered the parents and you cheered even if you were down 30.

Covering as many games as we do at The State Journal, it makes me nostalgic for my high school days. Funny how four years feels like such a massive amount of time.

Sometimes when I’m sitting in the stands hearing my own thoughts because of how quiet it is around me, I want to tell the kids that this time is fleeting. Yell louder, chant funny things, do the wave, wear goofy outfits on game days, don’t worry about how you look, just about how your team is doing. One day, you’ll look back and wish you could do it all over.

Last week, I was at a high school basketball game and across the gym, a few students sat, but one stood with a megaphone organizing parents and fans in cheers. That was until the game clock was paused and a referee asked him to sit down and stop using the megaphone. His megaphone was called “an artificial noisemaker,” which is prohibited.

Let fans cheer

According to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, artificial noisemakers include cowbells, sirens, clackers, cans or jugs with rocks or marbles and various other creations, any electronic device. In the next section, the handbook addresses megaphones separately and vaguely: “Megaphones are allowed to be used by cheerleaders as long as they are used in a traditional sense.”

It goes on to say, “Megaphones are not to be used to bang against the floor or wall to incite crowds or intimidate players.” Look up incite in the dictionary. It means to encourage or stir up in a violent or unlawful manner. 

Finally at the end of the section, but not under the category of artificial noisemakers: “Megaphones may not be used by fans as noisemakers.” Are fans not allowed to cup their hands around their face and yell? Shouldn’t megaphones be classified as voice-enhancers? 

It’s a shame to me that a fan who was yelling words such as, “Go,” “You can do it” and “Stand up and cheer” was asked to stop. Words like that should be encouraged through any device at a sporting event, especially a megaphone.  It makes me sad that the efforts of my hometown hardware store, as it tries to make sports something for the whole community, are being taken away. Last week, the student did as he was asked, his team lost and school spirit died a little more.

Emily Patton: (502) 227-4556 EXT 264. Email: epatton@state-journal.com. Twitter: @pemily

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.

  • I, too, was at that particular game and happened to be the one who had to ask that young man to take a seat because the referee had said we must. It absolutely broke my heart for him! And, yes, the school spirit did die a little more. Even when a team struggles, the student body should come out and cheer them on! Sad, just sad!