COMMENTARY: Bonner Springs, Basehor rivalry far more than sports


By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

Most sports rivalries peak two or three times a year, whether it's college basketball, college football or the NFL.

Duke and North Carolina, one of the best sports rivalries in the nation, only matters twice a year and it matters because of how competitive the schools are in basketball.

Sometimes, though, rivalries are more than what goes on the gridiron or the basketball court. Rivalries between two high schools can symbolize a rivalry between two cities.

As Bonner Springs and Basehor-Linwood are set to clash for a third and final time tonight at Bonner Springs High School in the 4A sub-state semifinal, it's more than a renewal of a great Kaw Valley League rivalry.

It's a renewal between two cities that compete for population, business and economic development.

My first job as an intern in journalism was to cover the City of Bonner Springs. One of my early assignments, though it's not online now, was to cover a semi-Border War between the City of Bonner Springs and City of Basehor.

In 2008, the two cities clashed on an issue regarding boundaries for economic growth. The Bonner Springs Chieftain did a great job of covering the dispute; check their article out here.

Regardless to say, there's some bad blood between the cities and there has been for a long time. Bonner Springs felt like Basehor and Leavenworth County gave them the shaft in terms of the debate.

Another grain or two of salt that's been rubbed in the Bonner Springs wound has come in terms of the populations in both cities.

Since 2000, the population of Bonner Springs has dipped 2.2 percent, not bad considering the bad luck other communities have had with keeping residents. The bad news, though, comes when you look at Basehor's growth. The city has grown by an incredible 37 percent during the same time period Bonner Springs' population has fallen a bit.

One would assume Basehor's growth has been achieved at least a little bit by Bonner Springs' residents leaving the city. After all, K-7 is really the only thing that separates the two communities.

Still, even with all of the history, it goes beyond that.

As the older generations battle through politics and economic battles, the younger students at both schools loathe each other - and yes, loathe is the right word here.

The fire burns especially with students at Bonner Springs High School.

For students at Bonner Springs - many of them sit in the now famous "Orange Crush" - they feel Basehor's student body is filled with elitists.

They feel Basehor's athletes are smug (which is not true based on my experience) and they desperately want to beat Basehor-Linwood more than any single opponent on the schedule.

Those in Bonner Springs feel this is a battle between a blue-collar team and a white-collar team.

Meanwhile, Basehor's students are quick to point out "scoreboard" - they've dominated Basehor and Bonner the past four years in football and boys basketball - and there's often a little brother mentality given to Bonner Springs by the Basehor fans.

With respect to Schlagle-Washington boys basketball and Piper-Bishop Ward (all sports), my two favorite rivalries in Wyandotte County, this rivalry is different.

It's between two cultures. It's between two communities. It's between competing cities. It's between two mind-sets.

A win by Basehor-Linwood means the status quo - another win against Bonner Springs and another opportunity at a sub-state crown.

A win by Bonner Springs would almost feel like a liberation of sorts from the recent trend of Basehor dominance. It would be arguably the biggest win in the past decade and one of the biggest wins in the past two decades.

Kaw Valley League fans celebrate Basehor-Lansing as a great rivalry.

Give me Basehor-Bonner Springs any day of the week over it. There's more bad blood and there's legit hatred between the two schools.

Friday night should be fun at Bonner Springs.

Let's do this.