OPINION – I don’t quite understand a community that claims to honor its past, yet when it comes down to putting that into practice, kicks its legacy to the curb.
It’s happening again, this time at Dixie High School, where they’re getting a new baseball field.
The old field was appropriately called Don Lay Flyer Field, honoring the coach who brought the school’s baseball program to prominence in the early 1970s.
The plan is to name the baseball park Flyer Field and put up some bronze plaques to honor Lay and others associated with the school’s baseball program.
Now, while it is proper to honor those whose contributions to the program have been significant, what about the author of the history of a stalwart program?
His memory has gone out the window, apparently.
Southern Utah has tried, for many years, to put forth this image of how important legacy is, how important it is to remember those who have had a significant and positive impact on the community.
But it rings hollow.
We have seen the powers that be decide that the renovations to the old Electric Theater should be focused on revamping and modernizing instead of respecting what it was and restoring it to its original beauty and order.
We saw a futile effort to tear down the historic Sunbowl.
What’s next, removing the “D” from the side of the hill?
It’s the price we pay for progress, where little towns like St. George decide that, well, they really need strip malls, impersonal big box stores, and a quota of slop-house fast food joints and cheesy restaurants you can visit in Anytown, USA, instead of cherishing the things that make it unique.
Washington County School District officials say they mean no disrespect in their plan to rename the field and erect some fancy plaques.
Sorry, but the change is a slap in the face to the history of the school and a coach who was a significant part of that history.
At least the district isn’t soliciting businesses to pay for naming rights for the field or else we could have the high school field named something as ridiculous and inappropriate as Energy Solutions Field.
Look, tradition counts, it is meaningful, it is inspirational.
And, it is a major part of sports.
Imagine the uproar if the NFL tried to change the name of the Vince Lombardi Trophy or the NHL hung a new moniker on the Stanley Cup.
While this is not of the same scope, it falls into the same narrow line of thinking.
Dixie High School principal Sharla Campbell has tried to spin it, saying the decision to name the ballpark Flyer Field was not meant to be disrespectful.
However it was meant – whether to cave to egos in the school district or other political reasons – it is hugely disrespectful.
There was a promise made when the field was named to honor Don Lay, that it would be a monument, of sorts, to a man who was a good, positive influence on boys who would don the Flyer colors and go play baseball. That promise is being broken, which, in my book, is disrespectful.
It seems there are a number of others who feel the same way. An online petition has already garnered more than 600 names. More are expected when a paper version of the petition is circulated.
Just because something reflects the “old,” a part of history, does not make it irrelevant, a lesson that seems lost on a lot of people these days.
New is good, new is fine, new is important.
But, so is old, so are the people, places, and things that helped us find the “new” and “improved” in our lives.
More than a dozen years ago DHS renamed its football field Walt Brooks Stadium after another former coach and role model for the athletes who have competed in the school’s colors. It was a well-deserved honor. So is keeping Don Lay’s name on the baseball field.
Look, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all supposed to be about education. A big part of education is history as we learn about the people and events that built the foundation for our lives. A lot of that foundation was forged through sports where young men and women learn about perseverance, develop character, are introduced to commitment.
There are invaluable lessons our young people must learn as they grow, push themselves, strive for excellence, are exposed to the rules of honesty and fair play.
Some learn them in the home, others learn them in the classroom, through the arts, or on the playing field, in the gym, or in a swimming pool. Wherever the lessons are learned, they are invaluable. Especially when they are given role models to look up to, guidance, and inspiration to persevere when it is easier to give up.
The people who become those role models and offer the guidance and inspiration?
They deserve to be honored, remembered, revered because we have placed our young people in their hands to mold, develop, teach, guide and they have not let us down.
It’s shameful that DHS and the school district would even consider taking the name of such an influential person as Don Lay off of a stadium where he helped set the standards for excellence.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a petition to sign.
You can, too.
Just go to http://chn.ge/1FfczNx.
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- Dixie High School: New era brings new baseball field, controversy over name
- New name, new attitude: Dixie Rebels become the new Zion Lions
- Applause and song resound, Dixie name change survey results; STGnews Videocast and Photo Gallery
- On the EDge: Can we ever find unity again?
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela
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