While covering the Aitkin Gobblers and Crosby-Ironton Rangers boys' basketball game last week I experienced something rather peculiar.
I was able to find a place to sit without a problem.
In fact, besides people sitting behind me and a gentleman sitting to my right, there wasn't anybody close to me. As I peered across the way I noticed everyone was sitting relatively comfortably in the stands, enjoying their conversation.
What's my point? There was hardly anybody there. This is Crosby-Ironton and Aitkin, two towns and schools that love to hate each other playing basketball. And there was hardly anyone there.
There were no cheers roasting the Thanksgiving bird, no cackles questioning a player's ability, no enthusiasm from the crowd at all. Once the player announcements were over, the gym was as quiet as a Tibetan monastery.
True, the game was a blowout and it was over quickly, but what about the basketball game at Crosby, or the football game?
I will say the Aitkin student body was in full force at the volleyball game I attended. Other than that a morgue would have been louder. I've heard crowds at a John Tesh concerts have more excitement than a C-I and Aitkin sporting event this year.
Both schools were poorly represented in the stands. My real problem was the student body of both teams. True, there may have been other events for both schools but where were the students?
I guess my classmates and I didn't have a life when we were in high school because there was no way you ever missed a chance to go to Aitkin and taunt the Gobblers.
Although we respected people from Aitkin and most of us were friends with them we still loved to travel to Aitkin and let our opinions of their town and players be heard.
Besides the band, which left at halftime and made an even bigger void in the stands, neither school was represented by a large, loud student section.
I'm a fan of rivalries and tradition and this is probably why I voice my concern. As much as I hate to say it, there is no rivalry between C-I and Aitkin anymore.
Although both teams wanted to beat each other into the ground, in order for a rivalry to exist the entire student body and the communities need to be involved. That isn't the case anymore.
It saddens me to think that a rivalry as storied and as long as C-I and Aitkin could fade away as it has.
I can't explain why it has happened. Is it because the teams haven't played each other in football for a while? Is it because the older alumni forgot to stress the importance of attending these events?
Whatever the reason it's a shame.
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