Tradition is defined by Merriam Webster as: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior. If there was one thing that tradition runs through on a daily basis it is the world of sports. Scoring a touchdown at Lambeau Field and jumping in the first row of fans. Yelling WOO PIG SOOIE while sitting among 70,000 of closest friends in Fayetteville. Chanting Rock Chalk Jayhawk when seeing your team win a big game. Tradition is all through sports but there is one tradition that makes sports the best entertainment value out there. Rivalry. Two teams settling all the bad blood out their chosen place to play. Duke and North Carolina in battle of tobacco road. The Boston Red Sox and The New York Yankees in baseball. Michigan and Ohio State in college football. These are the games we as fans look forward to. We know it’s going to be a good game and very intense. However, one county in Arkansas lost their tradition due to the negligence of others.
In the state of Arkansas, in the northeast corners lies a county named Lawrence. This county is not a big area in fact it is made up a lot of smaller communities. The official population as of 2011 was 17,178. One of the towns that makes up this county and the largest is Walnut Ridge. A town of around 5,000 people. The second biggest town is the small community of Hoxie. The population of this small area is around 2800. These cities are separated by an imaginary line. However, there is one thing that you will find the people of these towns doing on a Friday night. They are going to be yelling for their alma mater.
The Bobcats and The Mustangs, execute their craft in front of all their fans. Both teams are well loved by their respected communities but for 30 years they played each other on the gridiron battling back and forth year after year. This all came to a screeching halt a few years ago. Both sides would vandalize their rival in doing things that would make each school look bad. Breaking windows, burning their school initials in the other teams’ field. It was out of acts of hatred but that is what rivalries are. That is what makes these games special. People want to prove that their school is better and will go at any lengths to prove it.
You have read the bad as to what happened when these two schools played, I have heard horror story after horror story. However, there is a flip side to every coin. If you were to go anywhere in Walnut Ridge or Hoxie, people would talk about which school was better. The game might not be played but people play out scenarios if it was. I have heard stories of when the two schools would play that there would not be a seat in the house. Think about the electricity at the fields. The dueling chants, the cheerleaders, the bands, If that does not send a chill down your spine, there is something wrong with you. People would have to stand along the fence to cheer on their school of choice. If you are one of these two schools wouldn’t you want the revenue from this one game alone ever other year. These are the stories that sports fan love to hear.
I am an outsider to this area and have not had the chance to experience the game between Walnut Ridge and Hoxie. Maybe I am in the wrong in mentioning this but I have heard excuses from both sides as to why the game has not been played in years. Walnut Ridge Superintendent in a story with the news network out of Jonesboro, Kait 8 cited the vandalism the reason the game was stopped. Hoxie fans say that since Walnut Ridge was losing the last four years. Does both arguments sound like excuses to you? Decide that for yourself. In my opinion, Throw out excuses from both sides. Let these two fight for bragging rights in Lawrence County.
Two cities, Two Schools Two Miles Apart, One Rivalry that needs to be renewed under the lights on Friday Night.