http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/12/0 ... via=search
What I'm now going to say is quite ironic: I've actually found more posts at other websites describing the sports culture in high school than I've seen in this forum and elsewhere at this website. http://www.democraticunderground.com and http://www.dailykos.com are politcal websites (liberal), but you'll find more critiques of the sports culture at those two websites alone than you will at this one. (Of course, there are unreasonable fans there, too.)... Let me share with you my own tangle with the Great God Football in South Bend.
I had sensed even as a youngster that intellect was not the key to success and popularity in my little town. But my first real cognizance came in high school. St. Joseph's High School, specifically, across the street from the Notre Dame campus physically and in its thrall in every sense. Streets and stores were gridlocked during ND football games, and opening weekend was as revered as the Pope. St. Joe reflected that in miniature; sports were God. Lip service to scholarly pursuits was given the lie in every action. Pep rally attendance was mandatory (enforced officially) as was enthusiastic hailing of the boy heroes (enforced socially).
Members of the debate and speech team quietly approached the principal and asked if we could use the pep rally time as study hall. We didn't in any way dislike or look down upon the athletes; they had no interest in our pursuits, and we were indifferent to theirs. We had little time to prepare for meets and would rather have been in the library.
We couldn't have imagined the terrifying response we'd receive. I can't recall after all these years how the word got out. I can't forget the shouting in the hallways; the physical threats, the bullying. Students organized to eliminate the speech team; I recall being backed against a locker between classes, my friend Brigid at my side, as a crowd crushed up against us chanting "Ban Debate! Ban Debate!", pounding their fists in rhythm. The swell of tribal id beyond all reason, all discussion, shocked me past clear thought. What the hell was going on?
None of the teachers present moved to break it up. The bell rang and we escaped to our classrooms.
My education continued as the discussion did, at home. My mother's friend ... proclaimed our effort to study rather than root for the boys meant we didn't support the school. School spirit meant getting behind the team. Period. I noted the students didn't gather to cheer the debate team as we headed for any tournament, big or small. How was that different? It WAS, she said, befuddled at my failure to grasp the obvious.
At least we had that in common.
We got our study hall. But our standing was pointedly underlined every time one of the sports teams brought home a victory. The principal printed out a large banner of congratulations each time, and papered over the debate and speech team trophy case with it.
That year our debate coach was killed in a car accident. A statewide tourney was organized in his honor. Our team busted ass to prepare and proudly bore home the first place trophy. We quietly handed it over to the principal in his office to no particular acclaim.
That same week another mandatory pep rally was held, as one of the athletic teams had nabbed a comparable honor.
Small stories, typical of a small town. True. Of no particular significance after so many years? Wrong. The same mentality that backed Brigid and me against the lockers, bullied under physical threat, with no help forthcoming from the people charged with our safety, has never been effectively challenged in South Bend. What matters is the Power of the Boys, the Success of the Team. To poke that beast in the eye is to set yourself apart as untouchable, unsupportable.
Somebody else besides me (hint, hint) needs to do some research of his own; in other words, do Google searches on appropriate words. Then copy and paste and voila! -- you've made a badly needed contribution to our beloved forum, thus providing the impetus for posting by other members.