Score another coup for the newly famous East Texas town of Carthage: the town Richard Linklater, Jack Black and Sonny Carl Davis put on the map for its eccentric views on punishing murderers now has scoreboard on the entire state -- nay, the whole entire world of high school athletics. Literally.
Workers are currently putting the finishing touches on a 2,500 square-foot, 24-ton behemoth of a Jumbotron at the town's high school football stadium. The video screen alone is 1,200 square feet, weighs five tons and sparkles with the gleam of 775,000 Friday night LED lights. (While it is the largest video screen in Texas high school football, the largest overall scoreboard is at Allen High School, whose 6,000-person student body is double the enrollment of Carthage's entire school district, and almost equal to Carthage's overall population of 6,779.)
Enormous as it is, it's a mere roadside billboard compared to the $8 million, 7,000-square-foot "Godzillatron" at the University of Texas, or the even bigger one at Jerryworld in Dallas.
And an argument could be made that Carthage deserves it as much as the Longhorns or Cowboys. After all, the Bulldogs have taken the 3-A state title three times since 2008, while the Horns have experienced no more than heartbreak, hard times and misery in that span. (And the 'Pokes haven't done squat since Hootie and the Blowfish were a force on the pop charts.)
Carthage's gargantuan structure carried a mere $750,000 price tag, and it was funded through a bond issue this spring. The proposition carried with a majority of 68.6 percent. A Carthage ISD official claimed that some of the price will be offset through around $35,000 in yearly ad sales. So it will be fully paid off in only 22 years! And finally, the Ford and Chevy truck dealers of Greater Carthage/Panola County will have a venue worthy of their talents!
The services of no fewer than eight people will be required to operate the four cameras and various other high-tech whiz-bangery. Some of them will be students, so this is really an educational opportunity and not some outlandishly grandiose new toy, according to Carthage ISD superintendent Glenn Hambrick. He says TV/broadcasting students could get scholarships through their experiences.
"That is the thing I like about it. It is expensive and it is a luxury, but there are some benefits to it. It is more than just a showpiece," Hambrick told the Longview News-Journal.
Reaction in the prosperous oil-patch town has been mixed. One Carthage High student said the scoreboard (cutesy nickname no doubt to come later) was "awesome," and the manager of a local sporting goods store told the Longview paper that the thrice-crowned Bulldogs had earned it.
At a Texas prep football forum, one local hoped that the scoreboard would wake up the genteel town's restrained fans, maybe make them a little more like the uproarious rowdies in nearby rock 'em, sock 'em Gilmer.
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Locals at the town H-E-B weren't so approving. One branded the scoreboard "an extreme waste of money," and fellow shopper Dennis English agreed.
"It is just a lot of extra money that does not need to be spent," he told the News-Journal. "It ain't about the kids; it's about pleasing the adults."
Get real, Mr. English. Since when have kids' sports -- especially high school football behind the East Texas Pine Curtain -- been about the kids?