We don’t know many recent high school graduates that haven’t tipped back a bottle or two. And that includes almost every staff member at the Gardner News.
So, it was with reluctance that we chose to run a story about the former Gardner Edgerton High School standout, Bubba Starling, who was cited for underage drinking in Arizona.
People are angry that we decided to run such a story about the local hero. After all, he’s a stellar kid, who can not only field a baseball, but who visits sick children in hospitals and never has a discouraging word for the hundreds of Gardner-Edgerton kids who stop him in the grocery store.
There are two reasons the story made print. First, for better or worse, Starling is now a public figure. It’s a double-edged sword. With it, comes fortune and fame. But, that means people will be watching his every move. We don’t envy Starling’s position and shudder to think what people would report had they been watching our every move when we were his age.
(In fact, we worry how kids today will deal with their Facebook pages in the future. Via social media, the thoughts of every teenager are out on the web for future employers to find.)
Second, every news publication in the Kansas City metropolitan area ran the story – many at the top of the hour and on the front page. When people want to know about Gardner, we hope to be their first stop. We can’t do that if we ignore the stories with ties to our own backyard that we don’t like.
We know there are great things in Starling’s future – not only on the baseball field. We expect him to be above his athletic peers in charitable giving of his time and of his talents. That’s the kid everyone in Gardner knows, and our expectations are just as high.
However, we recognize he’s still young and doing what people his age do. It’s too bad he his growing pains will occur  under the harsh media spotlight. However, like all of the things he’s learned so far, we’re certain this community  will be behind him.