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Jackrabbits, Sioux Falls, State of South Dakota Ripped by Washington Newspaper

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It seems like every year at NCAA Tournament time, we here in South Dakota find ourselves going through a bit of an identity crisis, thanks to some ignorant members of the media.

Whether it’s our local representative being identified as ‘San Diego State’ instead of South Dakota State, or a Salt Lake City newspaper running of photo of USD’s Matt Mooney in a SDSU preview story, we’ve almost come to expect it.

Salt Lake City NCAA Preview
Salt Lake Tribune

But in all honesty, the perpetrators of these slights are more sloppy than mean-spirited.

Until now.

A newspaper in Eastern Washington, the area of the country where South Dakota State’s first round NCAA Tournament opponent, Gonzaga, resides, took a sharp turn from your traditional game preview story to instead run a hit piece on SDSU, the City of Sioux Falls, and the entire Mount Rushmore State.

The Independent , a locally-owned newspaper in Washington, recently featured, ‘Yeah, Gonzaga Is Going to Win Their First Game’, a story penned by the paper’s managing editor, Brandon Hansen.

Hansen begins his journey along the ‘high road’ by taking a shot at SDSU’s unique nickname:

…this is why I love March Madness, you have to play teams with ridiculous mascots like the Jackrabbits.

Hardly original material there, especially when you consider the team this guy is backing – the Bulldogs – share a mascot with roughly 40 other schools in the United States. But hey, as they say in basketball – no harm, no foul.

Next, Hansen violates one of my cardinal rules in life (‘better to be thought a fool and keep your mouth shut, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt’) when he fails miserably at the simple act of reading basketball standings:

I don’t know much about the Jackrabbits, but South Dakota State finished sixth in their league during the regular season. How bad does that league have to be for a six seed to win its tournament?

Great point, if the Jackrabbits had finished sixth or were the sixth seed, which they weren’t.

South Dakota State WAS listed sixth on the final Summit League standings, but their 8-8 record was the same as two other teams, meaning they were tied for fourth place (big difference). That would explain why the Jacks (now follow me closely here, Brandon) were the FOURTH SEED in the Summit League Tournament.

But not to be deterred by his factual shortcomings, Hansen bulldozed ahead with a swipe at the City of Sioux Falls, which has continued to shatter attendance records in the nine years the Summit League has been coming to town:

Sioux Falls. A whopping population of 178,500, which is smaller than Spokane and still the largest city in all of South Dakota. While the Pac-12 was playing in Vegas, the Big Sky was playing in Little Vegas (Reno) and the ACC was playing in Brooklyn – the Summit League was balling in a city with a skyline like this…

He then inserted a photo of downtown Sioux Falls.

Interesting side note: Attendance for the Summit League men’s final was 7,000 higher than the Big Sky Final and 1,300 more than the West Coast Conference final, where Gonzaga played. (But there’s those darned facts getting in the way again)

Back to Hansen’s anti-Sioux Falls rant:

WOWEEEE, look at all them turn-of-the-century brick buildings. Yeehawwww. I’m totally making South Dakota mad right now, but when your state has fewer people than Montana you should probably reconsider your state status.

Now, keep in mind this biting criticism isn’t coming from some major population center like New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles, this is coming from the managing editor of a weekly newspaper (circulation 2,250) in the town of Chewelah, Washington – a bustling metropolis of 2,607 people (357 of which are apparently smart enough to find a more reliable source for their news)!

Should we be upset at this hit job? Hardly! This is simply a case of ‘consider the source’.

What else would you expect from a guy who writes for a weekly paper in a town whose name comes from a Kalispel word meaning ‘water snake’ or ‘garter snake’?

Seems pretty fitting, doesn’t it?

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