ON THE SIDELINES: Family and fan support for athletics is crucial

by Nov 9, 2023SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments


One Feather Staff


At every athletic event I cover, there are always fans with many of them being family of the athletes.  Being on the sidelines, I can hear the cheers for the athletes coming from the stands – which are generally full.

Recently, I covered the Cracker Bowl which is the championship for the Smoky Mountain Youth Football Conference.  The event was held at Murphy High School in Murphy, N.C. which meant that the roadway leading there was full that morning of vehicles traveling down to support their athletes.  There was vehicle after vehicle that morning that we saw covered with painted support for the teams.

Cherokee fans Ginger Littlejohn and Cory Johnson cheer during the Cracker Bowl held at Murphy High School recently. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)

It reminded me of a quote I’ve seen which states, “You can have a life, or your kid can play sports, but you can’t have both.”

Now, that quote, which I’ve never seen attributed to anyone unfortunately, is an over-generalization of the situation, but it does address the level of commitment that families of athletes have so that their children can play.

Several years ago, we traveled to the 1A state championship football game in a driving snow.  And, just like going to the Cracker Bowl, we saw vehicle after vehicle trudging through the storm to get to Raleigh to support their team – their athletes.

One of the referees at the Cracker Bowl made the comment that there were more people in the stands that morning than there were the previous evening for a high school game.  The children playing might not be aware of fan numbers in that way, but they are surely aware that their family is there to cheer them on.

The Cherokee teams are never alone when they travel, and that’s due to a fan base that is dedicated to the core.

The late Knute Rockne once said, “On the road, we’re somebody else’s guests – and, we play in a way that they’re not going to forget we visited them.”

Cherokee is like that, and a large part of it is due to the fans.

A few weeks ago, this played out during a fourth-round state playoff game in volleyball.  The Cherokee Lady Braves traveled to Polk Co. High School on a Saturday afternoon.  And, the Lady Braves were supported by a legion of fans that filled three-quarters of the gymnasium by this reporter’s viewpoint.

Several years ago, after that state championship game I referenced above, I wrote a column entitled “Cherokee fans won’t get a ring, but they deserve one”.  I spoke about the same fan support I’m discussing now.  While family and other fans will never lift the trophy themselves, their support helps those athletes do so.  Keep cheering.  Keep supporting.  Keep being present. It is noticed.