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As season continues, Bears earning respect

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By John Shindlebower

Spencer County’s 67-51 win over Collins last week was big for a number of reasons. It was the first ever match-up between the Bears and the new school, it was a big district win and put the Bears in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the district tournament next month.

But the win may have been most important because it sent a very loud signal that this team is worthy of some of the lofty expectations fans have been talking about for two years.
It’s one thing to talk about a team being capable of contending for a Regional title, it’s another to go out on the court and completely outplay another contender. That’s what the Bears did last week.

They had an opportunity to clear another hurdle last night with a game against district rival Anderson County. The Bearcats nipped Spencer County at the buzzer twice last year, and a win over Anderson might win over more believers.

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Last week’s matchup against Collins was exciting, not only because it was a big district game, but it was the Bears’ first ever game at the new school in Shelbyville. The school itself is beautiful, the gymnasium is first-class, and Collins looks like it has all the ingredients to become a consistent powerhouse in the Region for years to come.

The disappointment however came in the form of Collins’ student section, who came ready to mock Spencer County’s rural roots.

They dressed in overalls, hunting clothes and farm attire, and at one point in the second half when their defeat was sealed, began chanting an insult to the Spencer fans that included the term “White Trash.”

Enthusiastic student sections can really add to the charm and atmosphere at high school basketball games, but administrators need to make sure the generally good-natured ribbing doesn’t become too personal or over-the-top. Last week’s rants were designed to stereotype an entire community and schools should not tolerate that kind of activity.

School administrators at both Collins and Spencer County have had discussions in the wake of last week’s game regarding the behavior.

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In the wake of last week’s intended insults, I have to ask the question: “What’s wrong with being country?” I’ve covered Spencer County sports for eight years now and I’ve seen other schools make numerous references to Spencer County’s rural roots. I’ve heard chants like “Start your tractors” and have heard remarks from opposing fans aimed at belittling Spencer County as hicks.

Spencer County does have a rural heritage — one made up of strong-bodied individuals who made a living by working the land. What’s wrong with that? I say Spencer County should do more to proudly embrace a heritage that was built largely on agriculture.

One of the best-run and most successful programs at SCHS is the FFA. They’ve won too many state and national awards to mention and the lessons learned by students who participate serve them well not only now, but later on in college and in life.

Instead of feeling inferior to those from the city or wealthier suburbs, kids from this county should embrace who they are. No one has the power to offend you unless you give it to them. If you find being labeled “country” to somehow be offensive, you need to be reminded of the significant contributions of rural America. Did you know that one of our greatest presidents ever, was born in a log cabin right here in Kentucky? It don’t get much more country than that!

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One of John Calipari’s promises when he took the UK job nearly two years ago was that he would make UK one of the most talked-about programs in the country. Well, he wasn’t blowing smoke and his fiery language made sure of that last week.

During a loss to unranked Alabama, Calipari unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against freshman Terence Jones that was captured on national television. Viewers didn’t need closed-captioning or a degree in lip-reading to decipher Calipari’s words, and by the next day, his outburst was the center of national debate.

Calipari is by no means the first coach to have a dirty mouth. If you ever heard a Bobby Knight interview, you heard more beeps than a garbage truck stuck in reverse. But Calipari’s mistake is that he was on a national stage and lacked enough self-control from embarrassing himself, his players and his university. I’m sure the words were not foreign to Jones’ ears and he’s probably heard the same in practice. But a coach who wants his team to be well-discipline would be well-served to show some self-discipline himself.