Rupert Howell editorial 10/24/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2014

Law of unintended consequences applies to wolves and Tigers

You’ve got to stay with me on this one. It meanders before it comes to my point.
Last year I attended a meeting of the local historical society (Pan Gens) that was being criticized via a letter sent to the organization for having too much information about the local football team on their website.

Recently I viewed a YouTube video entitled, “How the Wolves Change Rivers,” a brief documentary on the effect of reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park. In less than 20 years the wolf population, after their 70-year absence, has transformed the natural geography at the national park.

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It seems that the wolves not only fed on deer but, more importantly, radically changed the behavior of the deer. Changes included valley slopes once bared by grazing deer becoming reforested with trees that quadrupled in size in six years.

The birds increased. The beavers also increased, creating more habitat for other animals. The wolves killed coyotes which increased the number of rabbits and mice which led to more hawks, badgers, weasels and foxes.

Bears found the carrion left from wild animals such as deer and coyote killed by the wolves. New growth trees and shrubs now produce more berries. Eventually, the behavior of the river has changed.

It now meanders less, there is less erosion and more pools and ripples because of the regenerating forest and stabilized banks.

I now think back to the critical letter and how football has transformed our behavior. New energy was found with the first South Panola State Championship.

Nine championships later, hundreds of young men have attended college on football scholarships. Other students, inspired by the successes of the football team, have earned scholarships in other sports.  The success at South Panola has inspired athletes at North Panola who view their counterparts with an if-they-can-do-it-so-can-we attitude.

Younger kids are hearing on a regular basis from every direction that in order to play, you must make your grades.

Pee-Wee football now dictates weekends and after school with games and practice. Across the nation, especially in the Southeast, South Panola is a familiar name.

Our citizens can now watch local players on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Local businesses have developed selling memorabilia and merchandise associated with football.
Hundreds of kids have learned the term of teamwork and what it means to be a good team member.

Many groups of our community come together, several times a week to watch games among several age groups.

Football success has changed the culture of our community with positive, if sometimes unanticipated surprises. In the process, it has become woven into our history. As part of our history, it belongs on the Pan Gens website. We hope to add more.