The clarion bell has rung. I hear, see, and feel that feedback from “Rebel Nation” has merit on many levels. One email will have me looking not just at football games, but life differently. The most persuasive written words come from a student named E. (withholding full name unless I get permission to use full name.)
She wrote the following.
“I’m very confused by your article. First of all there are around four public high schools within 15 minutes from West. South Doyle, on the other hand, is the only high school for miles, so of course they are going to have all these community and church organizations involved but that has nothing to do with the students. West also has a lot of students without access to cars or a warm coat for these chilly night games so they are not able to come to a lot of our games especially the away ones. Another thing the picture of our student section is from this past game and it’s not even an accurate representation…that was only even a few of the people who were even there and South Doyle’s picture is from one of the first games in the season. Look back at the West High Pep club Twitter page; look at how many fans we have then, it’s double maybe triple South Doyle. We have pride and faith in our team. You want a real story go talk to the fans, get their perspective or go talk to a senior football player, that’s a real story. Your article now is simply inaccurate and rude. Try again this time with a real perspective.”
West High Senior,
Many good points. E. you are destined to become a difference maker. Let me start out by highlighting that I did go to the fans, the band members, the players, and the parents, of West. Multiple times this season looking for the exact perspective you write about! Please visit http://www.facebook.com/knoxfocus The reader will notice scores of pictures taken of the fans, the players, the parents, and the band! These photos that I took go back to the Farragut game. I handed my business card out to scores of Rebel Nation members. When every reporter in town left, I would remain covering the hard working often overlooked, dedicated band members. Cleaning the trash. Result, virtually no response at all! So when the coach made his call to action for the fans…I took it to heart!
The email shown above highlights many issues I did not incorporate into my thinking. The point about ability to get to games and to be able to afford proper winter weather clothing hit me particularly hard. Also, on Twitter, many people were right to point out that the games are routinely blowouts. Not everyone can afford the price of a playoff ticket week after week.
The email came at possibly the perfect time. After covering the county commission meeting, I spoke with Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby. I made a highlight to the concerns within the email from a student in his district. He immediately began the process of exploring the possibility of having a KAT bus provide transportation. The funding would be via private contributions and not taxpayer funding.
One of the reasons that Commissioner Ownby is trying hard to secure bus transportation is ease traffic congestion. After the meeting on Monday, he made the prediction that “Rebel Nation” will have more fans in attendance than all of South Doyle. He firmly believes that for Rebel Nation, the playoff will be a home game atmosphere. Commissioner Ownby is so passionate about the Rebels; I would not be surprised if I see him leading the student section with the flag during the game! It would be an epic moment just like when Commissioner Brown, galvanized the student section.
I am a photojournalist. More than anything I want Rebel Nation to bring a level of fan intensity that is epic. Some of the best photos involve a full stadium of fans. #CheckerNeyland, a perfect example!
So in conclusion, your message is well received. I hope everyone reading this post takes a moment to follow https://twitter.com/JeffreyCOwnby and keep up to date on what is happening. I have been following both teams all season. Just like before I will be at the game taking photos. I will still be handing out my business card, and still offering my photos for free.
P.S. Jacob on Twitter…good catch on grammar!