Stuy students’ lack of emotional investment in their school’s athletic teams is universally known. It is an ugly characteristic of the school that has been established for a period of time so lengthy it has lost its novelty. It is definitely time to rock the boat and inject a healthy dose of school spirit into a student body that shows little to no support for its teams.
The most anticlimactic rationale behind the absence of school sports spirit is that the majority of our students don’t bother with sports at all. Athleticism is just something they do not appreciate—adrenaline rushes come when they’re on the verge of solving an exceptionally hard math problem rather than through an exceptionally executed play by one of their school’s sports teams. I will credit the majority of the students in Stuy with the knowledge that Jeremy Lin is on the Knicks, thanks to the recent “Linsanity” phenomenon. Sports can infiltrate pop culture, but the converse is not true. I am certain that if “24-second violation” were to be brought up in a conversation, they would think it to be a term in the Jersey Shore clubbing guidebook before they would ever connect it to a sport.
A relatively less obvious explanation of the underwhelming support of Stuy sports throughout the student body comes when you consider the psychology of the sports buff. The process of becoming a fan usually occurs during childhood. We are only capable of cultivating an emotional, long-term attachment to a sport, team, or specific athlete after we develop operational, concrete thinking. The people on Stuyvesant sports teams are our peers, and in some cases, our friends. Knowing them on a personal level makes any type of obsessive fan worship extremely unlikely to be established.
It is also understandably difficult even for hardcore sports fans to get worked up over a high school-level game when March Madness is waiting at home. When we’re used to seeing alleyoops and players hitting 400- foot homers on ESPN, making an effort to watch amateurs play becomes less appealing.
It is impossible to force love or even basic respect for sports, and believing that a certain method will somehow convert Stuy kids into die-hards is unreasonable and unrealistic. However, taking all of this into account, an improved sense of school spirit is still something we should all strive for.
Woo-Peg-Sooie, Stuyvesant athletics’ self-proclaimed “unofficial booster club,” is on the right track by having taken the first, most basic steps: creating a T-shirt and advertising games on Facebook. However, other efforts at raising awareness have come inconsistently. No followup event has materialized after T-shirt distribution, and the Stuyvesant cheerleaders have held only one, short-notice pep rally the entire school year.
The distribution of attention to certain sports is irregular as well. If a lot of emphasis is placed on the annual homecoming football game or the varsity basketball playoffs, an equivalent emphasis should be placed upon every other team’s big games. The lack of a unified Stuyvesant team name already creates identity confusion, and a heavier focus on certain sports only exacerbates this issue. It makes rooting for a certain team rather than for Stuy athletics as a whole, acceptable.
Remedying this depends a lot on the players. Are they willing to take time out of their daily schedules that already consist of a full day of school plus multiple-hour practices in an attempt to pump up the Stuy population’s enthusiasm for sports? We would be asking them to encourage game attendance and advertise their team, whether it is through posters in the hallways, word-of-mouth, or a morning announcement. That suggestion alone seems pretty tongue-in-cheek, but if everyone is truly serious about raising spirit, those types of attitudes have to be discarded.
The Pirates, Stuyvesant’s boys’ swimming team, is a great example of the potential the school’s sports teams have in building hype amongst fans around their games, bringing out the primal nature that characterize sports spectators, and boosts Stuy teams along the way. The Pirates’ semifinals meet in the PSAL Team Championship playoffs was the first time I watched the team. I was there to report for the Spectator and it was after a half-day of school. So naturally, I wasn’t excited about the game from the start. However, their rambunctious team chants, genuine team camaraderie, and dominant performance ultimately won me over. I was cheering for lanes two and four, occasionally heckling of the opposing team, and feeling a new sense of pride when the morning announcements mentioned that the Pirates had won the PSAL championship. I had gone into the meet with an ”alright, let’s just get this over with” attitude that was not helped by the humidity in the bleachers and stench of chlorine from the pool, but gradually cared more and more about the end result, thanks to the overall buzz of excitement surrounding the meet created by the intensity of the players.
The sole responsibility of the players is to prove that they are actually passionate about their own teams, whether it’s the Hitmen, or the Peglegs, or the Vixens, and are not just on the team to show colleges a well-rounded portfolio. Members have done their inherent job at exhibiting an authentic gratification about being on a team, but it is up to the rest of Stuy to notice it, and take an interest in the accompanying swagger.