Lament of the unspirited
fall, and more importantly, football season approaching, this is probably not
the best time to bring this up. Especially in Texas. |
As a matter of
fact, if you have ever painted your face before going to a football game, flown
your school flag higher than the US flag, or purchased a vehicle simply because
it was painted your school colors, stop reading. Your time would be better spent
needle pointing a throw pillow with your school mascot on it.
get school spirit. I'm all for supporting your school and classmates; it's just
the blind, fanatical loyalty accompanied by lots of aimless yelling. I just don't
see the point.
High school pep rallies are a good example. I've looked
at pep from both sides now, as a pepper upper and as a receiver of said pep. From
whatever perspective, they still seem like a lot of sound and fury signifying
a whole bunch of nothing.
I can distinctly remember my sophomore year
during a pep rally, this really peppy girl, the annoying kind, standing in front
of us and shouting, "Ya'llllll, if we don't get more energy, we're never going
to win the spirit stick! Let's get some spirit going!!!" What does that mean?
And can you tone down the pep a little bit. You're giving me a headache.
I'm assuming schools still use the spirit stick as the prize for the class who
makes the most racket? That's where they first lost me. It's a stick. Sticks are
everywhere and nowhere else is a stick considered a great prize. At least I've
never heard of the Nobel Peace Stick, or tuned in to see who was going to win
the best picture stick. I don't even think Ed McMahon shows up on people's front
porches with a really big Publisher's Clearance House Stick. And that guy will
give away anything.
And I still don't know how one "gets some spirit"
going. I guess I was handicapped from the get-go because I have this little thing
called pride that prevents me screaming and leaping around like Bedlam inmate
who thinks the CIA is controlling his thoughts with implants in his briefs.
It also bothered me that we were encouraged to feel superior and united against
this school that was just a couple of miles away. They hadn't done anything to
me get all worked up about. I even had friends there. So when we were encouraged
to come up with our own cheers, mine was something like "Due to the vagaries of
fate, socio-economic status, arbitrary districting lines, and busing, we're loosely
united against some kids just like us who were thrown together in similarly haphazard
ways, and who would go here if their house was another block north, or us there
if vice-versa. Whoopee us."
I could never get my cheers to catch on.
But in later high school years, I was on the football team and had all this
pep pointed in my general direction. Truth be told, I wasn't a very good football
player, and no amount of cheering or pep was going to change that fact. If my
cheers were accurate, they would have been along the lines of "If Gosselink plays
much, it's going to be a slaughter - let him stand by the band and drink lots
of water. Go team!"
But I never heard the good players acting like it
mattered. Not once did I hear our star running back say, "You know, I was thinking
about loafing it this week, going half speed. But after seeing those two freshman
hop around like howler monkeys cranked up on speed, I'm inspired to try, maybe
even give the mathematical impossible 110%."
In a cruel irony, even though
I was spirit black hole, I was often asked to be the football team's spokesman
at pep rallies. I think those weeks I was even team captain, but this was a titular
position with only symbolic power when I held it.
Probably since I was
useless on the field, the coaches figured I could at least be helpful at the pep
rallies. At first, I was nervous about what I would tell all of my fellow spirited
students until I found out that there is only one speech a football player has
even given at a pep rally.
"Uh, yeah, we've been working hard all week,
and, uh, with all your yelling and support and stuff, WE'RE GOING TO KICK (opposing
school's name here) BUTT! Go (your school's mascot here)!" And then do that simian,
John Wayne saunter across the gym floor back to the team and start slapping high
I'm pretty sure that's how it is in every high school in Texas.
We even have higher education in place for those folks who are really spirited
in high school. They go to Texas A&M. From the sound of it, those few unspirited
souls who unwittingly stumble onto campus soon find out that if you don't have
intense school spirit while there and for the rest of your life, they have this
big bonfire where they burn those who aren't sufficiently pepped. Now that's some
Hey, it takes all kinds. If you are real peppy, knock
your lights out. I just ask that you don't get your spirit on me or your pep on
Go (your team name here)!