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Extra Innings: This space not for sale

On Feb. 11, the basketball court at the Varsity Gym will be named “Bobby Wanzer Court” in honor of the pioneer coach of Fisher men’s basketball. Wanzer coached the Cardinals for 24 years and retired with a 311-239 record. When it comes to Fisher sports, Wanzer is a legend. Not only did he coach the Cardinals but he also played all-star basketball for the Rochester Royals — they’re the current Sacramento Kings, for those of you playing along at home — won the MVP in 1953 and is a member of the hall of fame.

So it’s only appropriate that he receives this honor. In a sports world that’s dominated by corporate sponsorship, Fisher continues to acknowledge those who helped build the community instead of turning to faceless companies.

There are too few examples left of this on the national level nowadays. There are too many Pepsi Arenas, PETCO Parks, and FedEx Fields. The San Francisco Giants’ stadium isn’t even six years old but is about to take on its third name. We need more Lambeau Fields, Ralph Wilson Stadiums, and Comiskey Park — oh, wait … that one succumbed to sponsorship too. Hello, U.S. Cellular Field. Classic. Even the local War Memorial is now the Blue Cross Arena. Gee, thanks, Blue Cross for defending freedom.

I understand that sometimes in order to build these new stadiums, teams and organizations need to raise a few bucks. But isn’t there something to be said about history? About keeping the past alive? Are we going to tell our children someday about how great the pool at the BOB in Arizona was? Or about the awesome luxury sweets at the Staples Center? Or about the train at Minute Maid Park? No. Hopefully, we’ll be able to pass on stories about the great stadiums. And God bless baseball’s trinity of untouchables: Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field.

Thank you, Fisher, for honoring those made Fisher what it is today. And thank you, Bobby Wanzer, for making us what we are today.

Originally published in the Cardinal Courier (Volume 5-Issue 7; Jan. 25, 2006).
Bill Kuchman
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