Last weekend’s Racine County Baseball Showcase sparked an interesting discussion among several area sports parents and coaches.

Burlington vs. Catholic Central. David vs. Goliath. The big dog against the little puppy.

With all eight baseball teams getting together in Burlington last weekend, and the upcoming Racine County invites for soccer and tennis, I couldn’t help but obsess over something that really needs to change – the overall relationship between the athletic departments of Burlington High School and
Catholic Central High School.

Watching the Catholic
Central baseball team go toe-to-toe with Waterford Union High School, a school with 1,000 more students and a place in the same Southern Lakes Conference as Burlington, it begged an obvious question.

If the Toppers can only allow four hits to the mighty Wolverines, and only lose 2-0, why can’t they do the same with the defending state champion Burlington Demons?

Last summer, I got some good insight from the Catholic Central side. Jim Friend, who coached Burlington in the 1990s to a state tournament, said Catholic Central coaches approached BHS about playing an exhibition game.

Apparently, they were vehemently denied, as Burlington officials decried, “We have everything to lose, and nothing to gain.”

In short, the Demon athletic department comes off with the attitude that a potential loss to Toppers would hurt the BHS program.

If Catholic Central wins, heaven forbid, the big, bad Demons would look bad, and apparently feelings would be hurt?

If Burlington wins?

Oh well, big deal, you beat a Division 5 school that can barely muster a varsity squad let alone a program.

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing this narrative.

On Friday night, one Catholic Central baseball parent echoed the concern, saying “Burlington has everything to lose.”

A fellow parent looked at me and we both uttered, “It’s not about that.”

It’s not about what one school “gains” or “loses.”

It’s much less selfish, adult-centric and ignorant than that.

High school sports are about competition, camaraderie, learning and teaching a sense of community and sportsmanship, among other things.

What’s more sportsmanlike than taking on all opponents, big or small, for the love of the game, spirit of competition and betterment of community?

I hope Catholic Central Athletic Director Tom Aldrich and Burlington AD Eric Plitzuweit are reading this.

Guys, there has to be a better way to bring us together.

Sure, the Burlington softball squad no-hit Catholic Central Saturday, 18-0, in three innings, but the fact that it happened speaks volumes.

These student-athletes live in the same town, grew up friends playing in youth ball together and still maintain friendships today.

What message are we sending them when we tell them they can’t play another team because they’re “not good enough,” are “too small” or don’t offer us anything?

A baseball matchup seems the most logical, and basketball wouldn’t be difficult, either.

Football, based solely on numbers, would have to be once every few years, but there is no doubt the Toppers’ state semifinal squad of 2015 would’ve had a good of chance as anyone to slay the Demons.

Last year’s Toppers’ state runner-up basketball squad would’ve been supreme competition for Burlington, and this year’s baseball team would certainly compete with Burlington.

The baseball and basketball games could be a ton of fun.

Have the baseball game in mid- or late May, once the weather is warm, and have it under the lights at Beaumont Field. Concessions could be free or reduced, sports memorabilia from both schools could be sold at discount prices and all fan proceeds could go to a charity or community cause.

Remember how last spring’s Waterford-Burlington baseball showdown for first place had people lined up the first- and third-base lines, and hundreds packed Beaumont?

A Burlington-Catholic Central clash, especially if both teams are good, which they are this year and should also be next year, would draw just as many if not more people.

The basketball clash could be a season opener and keep the fundraiser theme, and football could start as an exhibition or scrimmage and see where it evolves.

Many parents and coaches want this to happen, and I don’t see the harm in it.

We need to promote unity among our city student-athletes. The current divisive attitudes and philosophies aren’t helping anyone.

They’re only keeping the schools apart and taking away the innocence of something that’s supposed to be a game, not a business.

With the elements of religion, size and sheer numbers, Burlington and Catholic Central high schools are already very different.

“They put their uniform on one leg at a time just like we do,” Friend said about playing against Waterford.

Maybe it’s time the Toppers and Demons take this silly, yet painfully true, statement to heart.

Comments

comments