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Rivalry games always inspire emotions, and that makes that game a little more special for players and fans on both sides.
That's true of the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry. The Marion County-Washington County rivalry is no different.
But that's not an excuse for vandalism, and unfortunately, that's what happened at both high schools last week. On Friday morning, we learned that the football fields at Marion and Washington counties had been defaced.
A big W was spray-painted at the 50-yard line at Marion County High School, and "WCHS" was painted in one of the end zones.
At Washington County High, someone spray-painted profanity on the football field and several holes were dug into the field. The bleachers and a golf cart were also damaged. Some press box windows were spray-painted, while others were shot out with a pellet gun. Two concrete letters were removed from the school's landscaping, placed in the shape of an MC and spray-painted yellow.
And at Friday night's game, someone painted on a few cars from Washington County.
Lebanon Police Chief Wally Brady said that the damage could be considered third-degree criminal mischief, a crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $250.
Brady said they don't have any suspects at this time. He knows that people will assume that someone from Washington County caused the damage at MCHS (and vice-versa), but it's possible someone from Marion County did it in hopes of getting the players riled up before the game.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. In fact, Brady said some kind of similar incident seems to happen every year before the Knights and Commanders face one another on the football field. He also wondered if this continues if the two teams will stop playing one another.
"That's ridiculous. There's no sense in that stuff," Brady told the Enterprise. "It's just a ball game."
We agree. Rivalries should be fun, but ultimately, it is still just a game.
It does help turn an otherwise "regular" game into a reason to show pride in your school and your team. So, wear your team's colors. Paint your faces, and cheer as loud as you can. Heck, hold a pep rally at the end of the school day.
But don't vandalize property. That's not a show of pride. It should be a reason to be ashamed.
We agree with Washington County Principal Paul Terrell, who described the damage at both schools as unfortunate.
"We're neighbors, and I want to get along like neighbors," he said.
Players and fans are passionate about rivalry games. That's understandable.
But that passion should bring more focus to those games and add to the environment during the game. When a handful of fans take things too far, all they do is distract from the teams and the game itself.
In a real sense, they have spoiled the sport.
Moving forward, here's hoping that Knights' and Commanders' fans will both strive to prove that "friendly" and "rivalry" can go together.