Monday, July 24, 2006

North to Alaska

We look forward to the day when the first college coach makes a recruiting trip to Barrow. Yes, Alaska's northernmost high school, located 340 miles north of the Arctic Circle, has decided to field a football team. Its nearest opponent is 577 miles away, but the Inupiaq village community — population 4,200 — has decided a six-figure travel budget is not too big of a hurdle to make this work. The force behind this? Barrow High has a frightening dropout rate and has been rocked in the last 18 months by alcohol and drug scandals, plus a murder that implicated two students. Officials decided to survey the 280 students — many students simply say they don't have enough to do — to find out what extracurricular activities they would like added to keep them busy. Football topped the list. ... The Whalers' home field won't need lights because the sun is always out in late summer, but snow and 20-degree temperatures are possible, even in August. Officials plan to park buses in a row to help keep freezing winds off elderly spectators and one of the buses will be heated for the opposing team's comfort. Last but not least, a sentry will be perched in a wooden lookout to scan for those nasty polar bears in case one of the roving giants decides to get too close to the action. Thanks to John for this gem and to First People for the image!