When examining Lawrence High's strong athletics heritage, it's important to break down the Chesty Lions' legacy of success into two distinct sub-categories.
First is the actual winning. Few, if any, schools from the state of Kansas can boast of the 100-plus state team or individual champions that LHS has churned out during its illustrious history - a number that may rise later this month when the 2006 spring sports season comes to a close.
Second is tradition. It's a word thrown around by LHS supporters in many different veins, from the steadfast insistence on playing football games at Haskell Stadium at 7:30 p.m. - when everyone else kicks off at 7 - to the beloved Chesty himself ("We're not just any old Lions. We're the Chesty Lions!").
Winning and tradition are both great attributes. They teach high school kids what it takes to get ahead in life and have success in the real world, and they provide a sense of place and discipline that likewise have a carryover effect long after the last touchdown is scored.
Unfortunately, they can also lead to a sense of entitlement that's sometimes hard to accept.
Take the controversy that erupted late last week when members of the Lawrence High boys basketball team found out that, due to a looming construction project on the LHS campus, there's a possibility they won't be able to use their home gym, affectionately named "The Jungle," for games during the 2006-07 season.
It didn't take long for some kids and parents to circle the wagons, start making phone calls looking for straight answers, and begin issuing statements about how, should that possibility become reality, they might look to transfer to other schools, or simply give up on playing basketball next winter.
On one hand, their response is understandable. Thus far, there has been a dearth of communication regarding the process, leaving the impression - correct or not - that the movers and shakers involved in the project are making back-door decisions without letting the people who will be the most affected know what's going on or have any input.
So it should come as no surprise that the core group being affected - teenagers - would have an emotionally charged reaction to what's taking place. They live in the moment, and often fail to see the long-range consequences of their actions. So when someone tells them they'll have to trade in the cozy confines of their beloved gym for a foreign home, they get riled up and hone in on their own self-interests.
The problem is, in this specific scenario, they're wrong. Not about the way they feel, but in the way they're threatening to act on those emotions.
Would it be a bummer if the Class of 2007 can't play its final season inside "The Jungle?" Yes. No one is arguing that.
However, a greater travesty would be these very same kids missing out on their senior season altogether, or causing some other type of ruckus, simply in the name of making a point.
As they've said more than once, it's all about Lawrence High tradition. Now, thanks to city voters willing to fork over hard-earned dollars and an administration that's ready to start swinging hammers, they're faced with an opportunity to allow that tradition to keep moving forward for future Chesty Lions.
It's a small sacrifice to make in the name of their beloved alma mater.