By Joe Rector

Folks can get their hackles up over a variety of things. Sometimes it’s the result of an argument with friends. Nothing causes tempers to flare quicker than negative comments about a individuals’ families. Even attacks on traditions can ignites fires in some people. That’s the case right now in the Karns community.

The other day, new football uniforms were revealed on Facebook. One jersey is white with blue numbers outlined in gray. The second jersey is blue with gray numbers and black outlines and piping around the V-neck. The helmets sport some kind of metallic design on a gray matte finish. Black pants go with the blue jersey, and gray ones are paired with the white one.

The screaming could be heard for miles as people voiced their displeasure. As of this writing, I’ve not seen one positive comment about the new attire. Coach Tobi Kilgore commented that the kids liked the uniforms, and that is important. However, other things might have been considered before these choices were made.

The old KHS that many attended was built in 1938. In 1980, students opened up the present high school. Over that time, thousands of individuals have graduated from the school, and today, many individuals still live in the community.

The official mascot of Karns High is the beaver. Yes, some think that’s funny. However, with Beaver Creek running through the community, the creature was a logical choice. Besides, a beaver is an animal that is territorial and isn’t afraid to defend itself and its home. If you don’t believe me, jump in the water around a beaver dam and see what happens.

The school colors are royal blue and gold. Over the years, variations of those two colors have appeared on uniforms, letter jackets, and many other clothing and souvenir items. Cheers including “blue…gold” became favorites of fans.

Now, the gold is gone, and the blue is muted. Someone decided to change the colors so that gray becomes a dominant school color. That might be just the right color to describe the feelings about the new athletic garb. Many people declare that the uniforms are dreary; they don’t resemble the ones of old that sported the official school colors. The blue, black, and gray uniforms will make players look more like bruises than players.

I understand the coach’s attempt to try to bring a spark to Karns High football. It’s been A LONG, LONG TIME since the Beavers had winning tradition, coming last during Red Wells’ and Jim Watkins’ tenures. The kids are hungry for victories, but not any more than are the parents and community members. These new uniforms have done the job: they’ve brought a spark… of controversy.

A high school should be the center of a community. That’s not so much true as it was a generation or two ago. Those who have lived in the area for years aren’t pleased with the uniform change. They long for the tradition that has long been associated with the school. No, these old fogies, as many will label them, don’t play on Friday night. However, many once did, and a truer fact is that they buy the tickets and fill the seats. They’ve been doing it for years and years, even though the teams have lost more games than they’ve won. Abandoning tradition just might be a way to drive remaining alumni away for good.

I coached a little football at Karns in another century. I graduated from the school even before then. Karns football needs something more than new uniforms for a revival. It needs a student body that wants to play for the school. That means keeping players from leaving for other schools. It also means that the community youth football program adopts the offense and defense of the high school and perfects their executions. That’s how winning schools have done it. Coach Kilgore mentioned winning programs like West and Alcoa, but I don’t recall any of them dumping their traditions. My suggestion is to forget the ugly Under Armour uniforms, return to the blue and gold, and build a winning program that starts with the youngest players in the community learning the system. I support the coaching staff at KHS; I just don’t agree with this change.