Letters to the Editor

Sports coverage: Cats deserve better

I am writing this letter to comment on the accomplishments of the Oak Harbor Wildcat varsity football team and the news coverage they have received.

What a spectacular season for the Wildcats! Sports writers in the state predicted them to be mediocre. But they have convincingly changed that perception. They are a superb team that promises to go far in the state playoffs, perhaps — dare we think it — all the way.

On Thursday the Wildcats finished their regular season with a league best 8-1 overall record. Despite owning the best record in the Wesco North league they will be the third seeded team due to a non-merit based tie breaker system among teams in the league, a coin toss. Clearly this tie breaking system must be reviewed. Why not consider overall record or margins of victory over common opponents? By any competitive measure the Oak Harbor Wildcats come out on top. Instead of hosting the third seeded team from the Wesco South league at home, they will now play the top seeded team away on their field. It is a shame, but also another obstacle this team will likely overcome.

Oak Harbor Memorial Stadium's shortcomings have been very apparent this season. Home field advantage, if the tie breaking system had been merit-based, was not assured due to the limitations in field drainage, parking, seating and concessions that were cited by state and league officials, according to the Whidbey News-Times. It is too bad for the kids and also for the city of Oak Harbor. Our kids earned the opportunity for us to showcase the town we are so proud to live in. The upcoming levy to upgrade the high school and athletic facilities is sorely needed.

Oak Harbor High students have poorly attended even the biggest away games. I don't believe this is due to student indifference. Who can blame parents for not wanting their children driving two hours away at night to attend? The school ought to run student buses.

The local coverage of the Wildcat season by the News-Times has been a disappointment. Missing a number of games due to professional requirements away from home, I have found the Skagit Valley Herald and Seattle Times to be the only online sources for timely coverage of the Oak Harbor Wildcat games. Is it too much to expect information about Friday's game in Saturday's paper? I'm betting that Tuesday's playoff game won't make Wednesday's paper either. Even when there is coverage it has been disappointing. The Wildcat season ending varsity football win received less prominent attention than the little gridder football game and the girls soccer game.

Are you waiting for a REALLY good season? This is the best season the Oak Harbor varsity football team has had in a long time. How many years has it been since we were league champions and going to the state playoffs? It is news worth covering. I suggest that if your staff is too small to adequately cover this local interest story that you hire some of the talented high school students to write about and photograph the game.

The Oak Harbor Wildcat season is a source of civic pride and school pride. Fans have filled Memorial field to capacity and it has been a fun ride for the many who have caught Wildcat fever this year. Sure it is just a game, but the season and these kids are special. They deserve better on a number of different fronts. Go Cats — I am proud of you. Show the state that they know how to play football here in this small town.

Tom Payne

Oak Harbor

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