Thursday, November 10, 2005

The End Of A Tradition?

According to a November 10, 2005 article in the Washington Post, a fall tradition, the Friday night football game at the local high school, is suffering some hard times. The article, "Friday Night's Lights Are Going Dark: Football Game Violence Imperils a Rite of Youth," indicates that our society is, in effect, surrendering to the strong-arm tactics of a very few:

"This week, after the accidental shooting of a 17-year-old girl at an Oct. 28 game, Annapolis High School has moved its traditional Friday night homecoming game to this afternoon. At tomorrow's homecoming parade, marchers will reach the City Dock and then just go home. The game will have already been played.

"The cherished ritual of Friday night high school football -- hot chocolate, marching bands and blankets under the lights -- has long been as sure a sign of fall as the changing of the leaves. But this season, a series of shootings and stabbings during and after the games threatens to upend the tradition here and across the country....

"Before this fall, the last fatality at a high school football game was in November 2003 in Sugar Land, Texas, according to Trump's database."
An inset in the above-cited article provides the following chronology:
Aug. 19 Miami: High school student shot to death in stadium parking lot.

Aug. 19 Morrow, Ga.: Student and a spectator wounded in a parking lot.

Sept. 2 Anchorage: Student charged with attempted murder after shooting wildly in a parking lot before a game.

Sept. 9 Racine, Wis.: Two students suffered minor gunshot wounds near a game.

Sept. 9 Edmond, Okla.: School band member shoots into the air after a game.

Sept. 16 South Salt Lake, Utah: Teenager fired at a school bus after a game, injuring one person.

Sept. 17 Decatur, Ga.: Two males shot outside a game.

Sept. 23 Silver Spring: Teenager stabbed to death in a parking lot after a game.

Oct. 7 Richardson, Tex.: Student shot to death during a fight after a game.

Oct. 28 Annapolis: Teenager shot in the thigh at a game.
According to the article, parents are scrambling to rearrange their schedules in order to take their children to the games, and some teams are playing games without any substantial number of spectators:

"School officials in Anne Arundel County have rescheduled remaining Friday night games this year for times when fewer people will attend. Games have been played at twilight, on Saturday afternoons and, in the case of today's Annapolis contest, after school on a Thursday.

"The kickoff times are wreaking havoc with schedules. Parents have had to take time off from work. Referees have had to shuffle assignments. The new varsity game times have affected junior varsity teams, which now play at odd hours. Coaches are grumbling about lost revenue at the gates and concession stands; attendance was off by one-third at last Friday's Annapolis game.

"'I had to get off two hours early to come to the game,' said Sheree Brown-Queen, a juvenile probation officer who was at the Annapolis game Friday to cheer nephew Justin Brown, a Panthers safety."

"A former Annapolis High School cheerleader, Brown-Queen said she remembers seeing her mother in the stands at every game, and she intends to do the same for her nephew: 'It's important to kids to see people there at the game who support them.'...
Athletic events such as football games are an important part of the lives of both the team members and their families and friends. Perhaps the saddest part of the change in the schedule of games is the following:

"It was definitely quiet when the Mount Vernon Knights played their oldest rival, the New Rochelle Huguenots, said Ric Wright, Mount Vernon's coach. 'There was no one there except for the police,' he said. Players had to help the referees move the down markers. Mount Vernon ultimately lost, 40-16, despite its theoretical home-field advantage.

"New Rochelle students learned their team had won only after the game was over, in an announcement on the school intercom.

"'Everybody just kind of looked at each other,' said Eileen Fener, 17, a New Rochelle senior who had planned to attend. 'Nobody cheered. Nobody knew what to do.'"
Why are these events having such problems? Again, according to the article:

"High school football is a magnet for violence, according to coaches, principals and security officials. In many suburbs, the game is the biggest event in town on Friday nights. It draws an audience far beyond the school community, a group that sometimes includes members of gangs.

"Team rivalries can fuel tempers. A packed stadium provides an ideal stage for committing a violent act and then slipping into a crowd....
And what measures are being taken?
"School officials in both Anne Arundel and Montgomery have tightened security in response to the violence. Montgomery had to contend with two deaths within a week. In the second case, a 23-year-old Germantown man was beaten with a miniature baseball bat a block away from a Sept. 16 Seneca Valley High School football game. It is unclear whether either the victim or the suspects in the case attended the game, said schools spokesman Brian Edwards.

"Additional police and school staff members have been assigned to remaining games in both counties.

"No tickets are being sold after halftime at games in Anne Arundel, and no one who leaves the stadium is allowed to return. Starting most games at twilight means 'we're going to be able to look at them and eyeball them as they're walking into the stadium' to better judge who might pose a threat, said Roy Skiles, assistant superintendent of Anne Arundel schools."
Even those of us who are not loyal fans of high-school football are the losers as our communities enter crisis-management mode. Our society is allowing gangs, thugs, and bullies to steal something of inestimable valuable--the sense of community spirit. Once gone, that sense cannot be restored by throwing more money and extra security officers at the problem.


At 11/11/2005 6:12 AM, Blogger LASunsett said...

What a crying shame. I remember being at football games on Friday nights, while in High School. I loved football then and love it now. My son played football for his HS when he was a freshman (he's a senior now), so I went to both the freshman games and the varsity games.

What a change in dynamics.

There was one area where the thugs all gathered and just hung out and you knew some of them were going to get into trouble, if not at the game, then immediately afterwards, sometimes on the way out.

When I was in HS the thugs didn't come to the games. They had thuggery to commit out in the community and didn't have time to fool with some game.

At 11/11/2005 1:13 PM, Blogger samwich said...

I love America, I love the freedoms we used to have and enjoy.


At 11/11/2005 1:40 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I note the list of favorite music on your Blogger profile, among the selections: "God Bless American" and "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." I know that you are a patriot, as am I.

I also note that another of your favorite musical pieces is "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth." Would that be the soprano aria from Handel's Messiah?

At 11/11/2005 3:18 PM, Blogger samwich said...

Hi AOW, my version is an LDS hymn.


At 11/11/2005 3:54 PM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

I suppose that we can all AT LEAST be thankful that high school stadiums are being used for football and not for murdering women who were raped and sodomized.

Re: Afghanistan, Taliban era.

At 11/11/2005 4:38 PM, Anonymous Felis said...

I don't know why sport often brings up the lowest insticts among people.
Perhaps there is too much stress on winning at any cost and not on building up sporting spirit.

I also bet that the do-gooder brigade will scream to ban firearms as the only right cure.

At 11/11/2005 6:55 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Your comment [I also bet that the do-gooder brigade will scream to ban firearms as the only right cure] merits an immediate response.

This paragraph, which I omitted in the posted excerpts, is in the article:

Eugene Peterson, an Anne Arundel school board member, called the Annapolis shooting "a wake-up call." He disagrees with those who dismiss the case as an accident. "With kids and guns, there's no accidents," he said. "So let's not call this an accident."

You called that one, Felis!

At 11/11/2005 9:26 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Yes, we can take some comfort that that high school stadiums are being used for football and not for murdering women who were raped and sodomized.

But of course, our young people are losing part of the ritual of growing up.

At 11/11/2005 9:31 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Worse than a shame! Parents are afraid to let their children out of their sight for one second. Parents hover at school-bus stops, restrict their children's neighborhood rovings, etc. Just yesterday, a parent told me that her daughter (age 15) has never learned to ride a bicycle because the neighborhood isn't safe. And they don't live in what I would term a "bad area."

Teenagers need some freedom. Children need to get out and run in the fresh air. But I admit that I myself am now afraid to use the bike paths near my home because of the incidents which have occurred. Used to be, and it wasn't so long ago, I'd hit the trail in my bike and ride for at least an hour--into the city, out into "the boonies." Then, one of my cousin's teachers was murdered along the path in the very area I considered safe.

When I was in HS the thugs didn't come to the games. Right! They hung out at certain mom-and-pop stores and, actually, here in my area, did no real harm. Others of us went to various school events, and sometimes parents dropped off and picked up, without a care in the world. I guess those days are over!

At 11/11/2005 10:11 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

The wussification of America continues. I can understand being protective of smaller children, but a teenager has to do some exploring of their own. There may be danger, but in a nation of 300 million people these few dozen incidents per year are statistically insignificant.

At 11/12/2005 12:14 AM, Blogger Esther said...

AOW, this stuns me. My own Silver Spring! At least it wasn't at my old high school. We were always accused of having knife fights (they thought we were tough) but nothing like that ever happened. Now it's a science and math magnet school.

I always had football games to attend during the weekend days. I don't think we had many on Friday nights. But how sad kids have to worry about that now too.

At 12/18/2010 1:19 AM, Anonymous jhon said...

there has been one traumatic experience that other people do not have. It is Tap Day—the tense afternoon in May when members of the junior class gather to await the whack on the back that will send 90 of them to the six great Senior societies. William Howard Taft had sweated it out (he went Skull & Bones); so had his son Robert (Bones), and Robert's political adversary, Dean Acheson (Scroll & Key). Even that fictional stalwart. Dink Stover (Bones), had trembled at the thought of Tap Day: "The morning was interminable, a horror. They did not even joke about the approaching ordeal. No one was so sure of election but that the possible rejection of some chum cast its gloom over the day."sena smh10


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