Don McAlavy: Local Columnist
“Any resemblance in persons living or dead in the following story is purely on purpose,” said Mark Morris, Clovis High School sports editor of the Purple Press back in 1976.
“The spirit of ’76 is now upon us in shades of red, white, and blue, and everywhere one looks, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others of our governmental fathers remind us that our country is on the eve of its 200th birthday.
“The sports scene 200 years ago was fairly dim and the reason was fairly obvious. A new nation was on its trial run and required the attention and dedication of the people as a whole, i.e., of the people, for the people, by the people.
“There were constitutions to be written, tea parties to be thrown and, when the country was falling apart, Betsy Ross got it all sewed up.
“However, contrary to popular belief, sports were not totally non-existent in this early America. One such sport is particularly remembered in the pages of history. I’m talking of course of the clash between the Lexington Minutemen and the British Redcoats. The Minutemen played a fine game and faithfully guarded their own territory. But the Redcoats under the coaching skill of ‘King’ George shattered the hopes of the Lexington fans when a third and powerful Redcoats offensive drive handed the minutemen their only early defeat of the season.
“Clashes at Lexington and Concord, a loss at Bunker Hill and a severe winter at Valley Forge, however, did not hinder the determined minutemen, and in the summer of 1776 the fireworks really began as the minutemen celebrated their near undefeated season.
“April of 1776 was also a memorable time for Colonial sports fans, for this was when that old favorite, ‘the British are Coming’ was invented. It was first demonstrated by its inventor, Paul Revere, to his grumbling neighbors, at midnight in April of 1775. It was an instant hit. (Later, of course, the one if by land, two if by seas clause was placed in the official rules and regulation handbook.)
“Yes, 1775 was definitely the year of the sports fan. The next year, however, also brought much good to the field of sports for it was then that the American Patriots played their first season and began to go undefeated for many years. In 1783 the Patriots adopted the Bald Eagle as the team’s mascot.
“In 1917, the Patriots risked their perfect record against an aggressive German team. But head coach Woodrow Wilson led the American team to victory. In 1941 the American team was challenged for its world title by an upcoming Japanese team, but the Patriots, this time under the coaching ability of F. D. Roosevelt, again used their strategy to overcome the opposition.
“The Patriots are currently (1976) playing the Angolan circuit and are expected to return home shortly (with any luck).
“The fact still remains though that the American Patriots owe much of their success to that wise old anonymous person who once said, ‘There are none so blind as those who have no vision.’”
This was report was reprinted with permission of its creator, Mark Morris.