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Commentary: OSAA's student section contest all about popularity

The local schools will put out a fantastic product, but do they really have a chance to win?


Last Friday, the OSAA stepped out of their box a little. They're starting a new contest, but not between athletes or coaches, but between fans. And specifically, between students.

   It's a poetic, though indirect, response to the rivalry between Scappoose and St. Helens in the last few weeks, and it's the best thing I've heard from the association in the last five months.

The contest boils down to this: each student section, if they wish, can submit a video of their antics at a basketball game before the seasons' end. The video has to show “sportsmanship and school pride at the highest level,” must include students, staff, players and coaches supporting the section as the best in the state and needs to be between two and three minutes in length - you can see the full contest rules by clicking here.

Awesome, right? Sure, the big schools like Lake Oswego and Jesuit have an edge, but it's a chance for everyone to broadcast something the OSAA says they stand for: school pride and a grand old time at a sporting event.

And between St. Helens and Scappoose, the pair of student sections shouldn’t hold anything back. We'll see the “roller coaster” from the Lions, and the Tribe with their goofy arm-in-arm jump for free-throws. If the turnout for rivalry games is any sign – the gym for the boys' basketball game was full to the brim – we'll get a pair of excellent videos to be proud of.

The problem is, I don't know that either school has a chance of winning.

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - The Scappoose student section, when riled up, can get pretty rowdy at games.The OSAA staff will choose the five best videos as finalists, and that's alright. It's fair. Where the process jumps off the tracks is the winner won't be chosen by committee, it'll be by popular vote. The flier the association has on their website breaks it down like this: links to the videos on Youtube must be submitted to the OSAA no later than March 2. From March 3-16, the OSAA will keep tabs on each video, and whichever one gets the highest “like” count on Youtube gets the trophy.

There are a couple of problems with that. Firstly, the OSAA seems to be counting on the “public” to vote and choose the “best” video. They'll take the videos sent in from each school, approve them, and post the best five on their own Youtube channel where just about anyone can log on and click that “like” button. That includes you, your grandmother, your cat and the 50,000 other people that live in your town.

It feels like we're all back in middle school with that dread in our stomachs before the talent show. We might have the best act – our magic show is second to none – but we're doomed before we ever step on stage, and not because the show won't go well. The winner of the show gets determined by our peers, and because we don't have a beautiful voice and play the guitar like all the other contestants, there's no chance. None.

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - St. Helens students perform one of their favorite cheers during a volleyball game in October: the roller coaster.That's not to say the content from either video from the locals schools will be sub-par. Attendance has been excellent, and participation (with a little nudging) has been solid, but the award won't be handed to the students with the most school pride.

The big schools, with numbers of over 2,000 students like David Douglas and Oregon City, already have a solid head start. They can stuff the boxes, and smaller towns like Scappoose and St. Helens won't get close.

It'd be just as easy to have the athletics directors do the voting. It's just 20 minutes of their time, and most of the voters wouldn't have a dog in the fight. It'd be fair, at least. Maybe you could give a secondary prize for the fan voting.

All things considered, I'm glad that the association has done something to highlight and reward the conduct of the student-fans. Whoever wins the prize, which is a catered lunch and a banner proclaiming the student section the “Best in the State,” will be able to proudly proclaim their victory in a way the sporting competitions don't allow.

It's not about talent. It's not about practice. It's not even about hard work, it's all about heart and enthusiasm. Any kid can do that, no matter their height, weight or strength. They might not be able to tie their own shoes, but you bet they can put on a puffy-paint covered t-shirt and wave their arms.

All of that, though, gets a little lost. It's become a popularity contest where the singer with the biggest group of friends is destined to win, but no sense in hanging our heads. Let's give ‘em a run for their money.

-- @JowardHoward