By Michael Sugerman
On Aug. 14 around 5 p.m., the Head Fanatics sent out a Facebook invitation to “Harvard-Westlake vs. Boyola Football.”
Roughly 2,300 students joined the event. And the trash talking began.
I don’t mind trash talk. It was pretty hilarious when a sophomore posted, “Harvard- Westlake will win 100-0.”
He was met with mockery from Loyola kids: “No they won’t. Loyola’s gonna crush. Are you an idiot?”
That kind of banter is innocent enough and stirs athletic spirit. However, I think there’s a line. It’s not thin or gray. It’s abundantly clear. There is a difference between riling up competitive sentiment and spewing inappropriate comments that only embarrass yourself and muddy the image of your school.
For example, I don’t consider the following exchange to be good-spirited trash talk. It’s ridiculous maliciousness.
One student said a “Boyola education” would land its students working at a McDonald’s in 15 years.
A Loyola student’s retort: “Harvard-Westlake alumni don’t end up at McDonald’s after high school. They wind up living on the streets after losing everything to satisfy their cocaine addictions.”
I even saw a heated conversation, initiated by allegations that Harvard-Westlake didn’t contribute to its nearby community, warring over whose school put forth better community service.
All of this idiocy over a football game. When exchanging pathetic insults becomes more important to a sport than the actual athletic event, I see a problem.
Last year, Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts asked students to “act like champions,” to represent Harvard-Westlake to the fullest, to keep in mind the clichéd but important dogma: “do unto others as you would have them do to you.” It was a pretty simple and fair request.
Furthermore, Huybrechts and the Student-Athlete Advisory Council crafted a policy in 2011 stating that “all members of the Harvard-Westlake community attending sporting events are expected to refrain from disrespectful conduct including verbal abuse, trash talk, taunting and inappropriate celebration.”
Yes, this mandate was meant for the field, but you’d think students would have the respect to follow those seemingly self-evident rules anywhere, even on social media platforms.
Jackson Beavers ’14, a member of the junior varsity football squad, diplomatically put it best.
“To have confidence in your team does not mean that you should go and abuse your opponent. To express pride is not to attack another, but to cheer on your fellow team members.”
Beavers aside, for the first time in six years, I was embarrassed by a handful of my fellow students.
I am not proud that we call Loyola “Boyola.” A few of their students complained that it’s a homophobic name. I can’t help but agree. This is pretty ironic given that our school supports a well-respected GSA club.
I am not proud that people think it’s funny to curse out random strangers, offend them and make judgments on their character just because of a sports rivalry. And the Loyola kids who are contributing to such a negative exchange should be ashamed, too.
I don’t care how much we dislike each other on the field or on the court. Misconduct on any platform shows a lack of maturity on either side. Show some restraint and try to act like champions.