Thundering impact on HS sports?

There has been a lot of fallout from the move of the Seattle Sonics NBA franchise to Oklahoma City. And yes, while there is a chance that turncoat Howard Schultz might be able to bring the team back with his public-relations-stunt of a lawsuit, most sports fans will feel the void this November.

But this is not one of the 200 columns from a mad sports editor about the NBA leaving town. This is certainly not where I say that I think they should have renamed the team the OKC Carpetbaggers instead of the Thunder.

This is about the future. There will be a void in the Seattle Metro media market this fall. What will TV news sports casts and cable stations fill the time with? The cable stations will probably air Blazer games from Portland. But we are not Portland and, no offense to Islander Paul Allen, it’s not the same as the Sonics.

I would like to see more big-time high school sports on TV. Get people who don’t have kids in school interested in their local community through sports. Mercer Island boys basketball already delivers that to the Island. There are many Islanders who attend boys basketball home games without a vested interest in anything other than a great show. Bring that passion to the masses. High school athletes put in a lot of time and effort to excel on the court and can always use more support. Interest from community members for their local high school team could lead to bigger and better things. Those community members might be inclined to help out at the local school if they feel some ownership through sports.

Obviously, some schools excel at different sports. The broadcasts should not be limited to just football, baseball and basketball.

Many people in western Washington would not know a lacrosse stick from a fishing net. High school lacrosse games are full of fast-paced action that could draw in viewers.

Soccer is going to explode in western Washington over the next few years with the MLS Sounder FC franchise coming next spring. Former Sonics announcer Kevin Colabro will bring over many die-hard basketball fans to experience the action. That growth will trickle down to the high school level.

The void left by the Sonics’ move to OKC does not have to be entirely negative.

Seeing more girls sports such as high school softball, basketball, tennis, lacrosse and soccer on TV might encourage more student athlete females to get involved and become more active in their schools.

While the Sonics’ move to OKC is tough to take, there could be more to watch this fall.

Matt Phelps is the Sports Editor of the Mercer Island Reporter and can be reached at

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