As a student athlete, it is probably safe to say I have an inside view of what makes athletics in Montgomery County tick that the average person cannot claim to have. In my four years at Blair I have competed against the other 22 Montgomery County public high schools in two sports. I have picked up a pretty good idea of what distinguishes a powerhouse athletic program from an embarrassment.
In the past few years Blair's athletic program has been on the upswing. Gradually Blazer athletes have been more dedicated to their respective sports, more and more fans have been filling the stands of Blazer stadium. Few if any Blair teams are still identified with the harsh terms that had plagued them such as: "bungling, incompetent, clumsy, worthless," and my personal favorite: "ham-fisted."
But why do we still enjoy average seasons? Why are we satisfied with being average? We clearly have a huge pool of athletes to draw from; Blair is home of the largest student population in the county. But we have not had powerhouse teams that blow out the competition all the way to the state final since many Blazers and Blazerettes can remember.
A lot of the problems that our teams have encountered in the win department could easily be solved or helped with media. I must praise Info Flow for hyping up the football team every week, and I think that football should not be the only sport that has this boost.
But the truth is one effort like this alone is fruitless in the grand scheme of things. As a community we need to come together in support of our fellow Blazers that sacrifice their time and money representing our school. For most athletes, having fans in the stands cheering them on, watching every move they make can be the biggest motivation of all. Big enough to justify committing close to 20 hours per week into their sport. Knowing that your friends, colleagues and mentors are observing your efforts and admiring you for it can be extremely gratifying. One can attribute the success of the football team to this year's senior class. The team has been building a newfound pride in Blair football that this school has not seen since the days of Coach Dale Miller.
Coaches and fans need to hype up Blair sporting events even more. As a team becomes more successful and appreciated, more and more potential athletes are drawn in to the winning bandwagon. This upward trend that this and last year's football team has ignited does not appear to be slowing down thanks to increased interest in the program.
Many schools around Montgomery County are learning from their counterparts around the state by establishing feeder programs in their middle schools. Feeder programs get kids started early in their respective sports so when they reach high school, they have a base knowledge of the game that coaches wont have to fumble with during tryouts. As it is right now, most Blair coaches have little, if any involvement with Blair's three feeder middle schools: Eastern MS, Takoma Park MS and Silver Spring International MS, and evidently, it hurts.
If we want our athletics teams to be supported when they compete, we need to give potential fans more incentive to attend Blair sporting events. Perhaps if we lowered the prices for Blair students, or made events free for those who made the honor roll attendance would increase. This would definitely be a win/win situation for the school. Students would have a drive to do well in the classroom and support their athletics teams. The concessions stand itself would make up for lost profits if we stocked it with Blair athletics merchandise.
Teams could promote themselves by having more fund-raisers; they could sell more merchandise and establish a bond with the community. Joe Schmoe from Silver Spring should know who Blair's quarterback is, or who led the county in rebounds last season, or who is going to take the swimming team to the top this year. Right now Blair's athletics program is too isolated from its potential fan base. By generating its own media merchandise like posters and programs, and becoming in constant contact with the community, things will only get better.
As athletes and fans, if we live with this reputation synonymous with mediocrity, average is the best we can hope for. Success takes effort, group effort. We need to have pride in our teams and pass it on to those who follow us, because losing is no fun. Blair definitely has potential, what we do with it will decide whether we are mediocre or truly successful.
Lincoln Fischer. Senior sports writer Lincoln Fischer was born in Manhattan, New York on May 1st 1985. He presently lives in Takoma Park with his mother, father and sister. His father, Craig, is an editor for Pace Publications, which produces a number of newsletters related to criminal … More »