SIDELINE SLANTS Team travel for athletes can be a long and winding road

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
One of the best aspects of driving through the wide-open spaces to and from the Colorado mountains is the amount of time you have to think.

So naturally, during a recent family vacation trip to Colorado, I found myself asking a number of questions.

How far do high school athletic teams have to travel in the Colorado mountains? Glenwood Springs in west central Colorado has a population of more than 6,000 people. I don’t recall seeing many towns of similar size while driving from Denver to Glenwood Springs on I-70.

Traveling long distances is not uncommon for teams in western Kansas. It’s a lot different for Marion County high school teams. Our area teams seldom drive more than 60 to 70 miles to play an opponent.

Some of the larger Kansas high schools also have to do some significant traveling, particularly the few large high schools in southwest Kansas. At least some of them travel in more comfort than the standard school bus.

With all due respect, anything more than one hour on a regular school bus feels like four. As you age, those bus rides become even more challenging. In fact, tolerating long bus rides may be one of the greatest challenges facing high school coaches.

If not for Tabor College’s location, its travel budget would be far worse. There are far fewer colleges than high schools, so naturally there will be more traveling. Fortunately for Tabor, at least six colleges in their conference are within 70 miles of Hillsboro.

In any event, area fans who like to follow their teams at home and away can do so with minimal traveling.

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Speaking of traveling, I imagine there are some interesting road trips for high school teams in winter when the Colorado mountains are blanketed with snow. At least Glenwood Springs is located on the interstate. A high school team from Leadville might find road conditions considerably more challenging.

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While on the subject of Colorado sports, I wonder if snow skiing or snow boarding is a state-sponsored interscholastic activity? What kind of cheers would cheerleaders lead for those sports?

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How many officials live in the mountains? One disadvantage of varsity officiating at any level is that every game is a road game.

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Be careful if you travel through Idaho Springs along I-70 in the Colorado mountains during a football game. The highway runs parallel to a football field. If a punter shanks a punt, it may wind up on your windshield. Explain that one to your insurance agent.

Perhaps they should put up a highway sign warning motorists to look out for stray punts.

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Here’s some good news for golfers. The golf courses I drove past appear to be more than holding their own in Colorado, even though the lack of snow last winter and lack of rain this summer are affecting numerous communities.

Farmers near Greeley face irrigating restrictions, residents in Evergreen were notified that watering outside was banned, and I heard that the town of Morrison was hauling in drinking water for its residents.

However, it appears that golf courses in Colorado are being watered sufficiently. Maybe these courses have their own wells. Maybe they don’t.

Maybe it’s an indication of our society’s priorities and how much we value golf. It causes me to wonder, though, just how serious the water shortage is when golf courses are permitted to absorb a disproportionate amount of water.

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P.S. Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.

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