The headline coming out of Saturday’s Salt Bowl should’ve been the record-breaking attendance of 38,000 fans at War Memorial Stadium.
It should’ve been about the Bryant crowd dressed in blue that nearly filled up their side of the stadium.
It should’ve been focused on the incredible work both towns did collecting donations for Goodwill.
That’s not the way the 2018 Salt Bowl will be remembered.
It’s unfortunate an event that celebrates the very best of Arkansas was marred by a security scare that sent people running from their seats in panic amid a possible shooting.
It’s unfortunate for the people who worked so hard to make this event a success. People like Shane Broadway have put in countless hours to showcase these Saline County communities.
It’s unfortunate we live at a time when the frequency of mass shootings has us on the edge of our seats.
It’s unfortunate for Little Rock’s reputation. Even though there wasn’t a shooting, this will only further the stereotype many people have of Arkansas’ capital city.
Above all, it’s unfortunate for the kids. From the students to band members to cheerleaders to players, this might have been the highlight of their season. Instead, it will be the lowest point.
I attended my first high school game since moving to Arkansas Saturday night. I decided to take my 7-year-old daughter to War Memorial to check out all this Salt Bowl hoopla I’ve heard so much about. Just before halftime of the game, my daughter started to get tired — so we went home. Thankfully, we missed the chaos.
But, you know what? What I saw was the coolest high school sports experience I’ve ever been part of – and I grew up under the Friday night lights of Texas.
While we were there, we decided to take some clips and put together a video celebrating the spirit of The Salt Bowl. At least, that was the plan…
Late Saturday night, it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to finish the project. What was there to celebrate?
But after reflecting on it, I decided that was the wrong decision. We can’t let the irresponsible actions of a few people impact an event that’s become so special to Arkansas.
In a statement Saturday, Bryant’s school superintendent said, “the spirit of the Salt Bowl remains strong.”
She’s right. But ultimately, “the spirit” is determined by the people of Benton.
It’s determined by the residents of Bryant.
It’s determined by us.
So here’s that video…and let’s not forget: there’s a new attendance record to beat next year!
This blog originally appeared on KARK.com and Fox16.com approximately 24 hours after the security scare.