The fall prep sports scene is now in full swing. Many of the local squads are at or near the top of their respective leagues. Have you been paying attention? Better yet, have you been attending any of the games, matches or meets?

If so, I applaud you. Keep it up. If not, I suggest you start.

We’ve made it easy for you. Just let your eyes wander to the bottom of this page, find the upcoming schedule, pick something that looks interesting and go.

Young athletes deserve to be celebrated. They deserve to rooted for and respectfully rooted against, but that can only happen if you show up.

There are many reasons to go support your local high school sports. The first and most obvious one being if you have a relative who happens to be a participant. I look back fondly on my time as a prep athlete partly because I always had loved ones there to celebrate in my triumphs and console me in my failures.

My parents made it to nearly every game I ever played. As a youth, I selfishly didn’t think anything of it. But now, looking back as an adult, I’m extremely grateful for all of the time they sacrificed so I could play sports.

Maybe you have a grandchild, a niece or nephew who’s playing. Just like with parents, having other family members in attendance means a lot to a young competitor.

Perhaps you are just a part of this community. Your interest is equally appreciated. Everyone likes performing in front of a crowd as opposed to an empty grandstand or quiet gymnasium. What will you get out of it, you ask? You’ll get some really great entertainment. At their best, prep athletics provide an extremely festive atmosphere. Combine the athletes, the school band, the packed house, the rivalries and you have most of the ingredients for a great way to spend a couple hours.

Which brings me to the most important fan base any prep athlete can hope to have the support of: fellow students.

If you are a student at any of the local high schools you absolutely must make your presence known at as many games as possible.

I know it’s 2013, and there are more distractions and activities fighting for your attention than ever before, but there is no excuse for not supporting your own school’s athletic endeavors. I could give you the whole school pride and spirit-speech, but I won’t because you already know it.

So how about going to support your classmates and friends? Surely you know someone on the cross country team or the goalie on one of your school’s soccer teams. Maybe you sit next to them in algebra, and that’s the end of it, or maybe they’re your best friend and you hang out every weekend.

No matter your relationship, they are your fellow Bulldogs, Vikings, Tigers or Cougars, and they deserve your support. Being high school classmates is a bond you’ll share with a select few for your entire life, so you might as well make the most of it while you are actually in high school.

I said I wasn’t going to give the school spirit speech earlier, but I can’t resist. Supporting your school is about showing who you are and being proud of where you’re from. I grew up a Brave. I’ll be one until the day I die. Now, as an alumni, it’s about reflecting on the times of my youth and enjoying those who are now carrying on today.

For those who think they are too cool to stand in support of their teams, I pity you. You’re missing out on a whole lot of fun.

— Zach Beehler is the Hermiston Herald sports reporter. Reach him at zbeehler@hermistonherald.com.

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