By Holly Malnati
It goes without saying that in terms of student support, nothing beats Friday night football games. Especially for the players.
There has been a lot of recent uproar about the lack of a student section and spirit at athletic events. Whether it be intentional or not, this anger has been rooted from the so-called “weak attendance” at the football games. Now, I do not want to attack the football team at all – I love Friday night games as much as the next person – but there seems to be some confusion. These accusations towards LFHS students are frustrating to hear. There are students who get together every Friday and make signs for each of the football players; there are students who cheer at the top of their lungs during every play. I would like to remind you that football has the largest fan base here at Lake Forest High School. They are the only sport or activity at LFHS with enough fans to warrant a designated “Student Section.” Therein lies the problem.
The football team walks out to hundreds of people in the stands for every single game. You may hear them preach school spirit and advocate for people to skip out on other Friday night activities to go and support them at Varsity Field, or to make the trek to another school. And lots of kids do. Again, I am not trying to single out any one group or program, but football is a prime example. The fame, glory, and support that they get from fellow students is unmatched in comparison to other sports. While it’s true that I have never seen such a small crowd at an LFHS football game as I did when we played Stevenson, I never once felt that the team was unappreciated.
Why? Well, when was the last time the soccer teams ran out to more than ten students in the stands at one of their home games? What about field hockey, who is often relegated to playing on weekday nights and Saturday mornings instead of primetime? Or swim and dive, who has had multiple athletes place in state competition in the last five years? If you want to talk about school spirit–or lack thereof–we should talk about the things that don’t even have a fan base before we discuss football. At a majority of the other events here at LFHS, including but not limited to other athletic teams, you can commonly find solely parents supporting their children.
There are so many things offered at Lake Forest High School that go unrecognized and I don’t think it’s fair that no one is talking about them. We have people who are committing to Division I schools for sports like cross country, we have a choir that is singing in the Vatican this spring, and we have so many other groups of people that deserve a fan base like the one football gets. These hard workers go unnoticed at times and continue to share their talents with the few audience members they have. And they do so because they love what they’re doing.
I want to make myself clear: I don’t expect everyone to drop everything and attend every school sporting event–no one has time for that. I think people also need to recognize that students have busy lives and if they aren’t attending a football game, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are out “partying.” That accusation is off base in addressing the student body as a whole. In fact, it most likely means that they have something else going on that is important to them, just like football is for the members of the team. For example, this weekend girls cross country was running at a big meet in Peoria on Saturday morning, therefore they were unable to attend the football game. Two weeks ago, some LFHS students opted to skip the game against Stevenson because they were taking the ACT the following morning. Those are just a few of the reasons students may miss a football game, and they’re completely justified. Furthermore, it is upsetting and unwarranted that some assume that if students aren’t at a football game, they must be making poor decisions. I know this wasn’t the direct intention of the previous open letter, but those who were not there need to be defended.
With all this being said, I believe that we should strive for high attendance at all events. For those who attend the football games, keep up the good work. For those who don’t attend them, that’s okay, too. I do encourage people to go because they are extremely entertaining, especially with friends. However, what I really encourage is to go out and support the other extracurriculars offered here at LFHS that don’t receive the support that they deserve. There are so many things to celebrate at such a wonderful high school, and it is important that all of us receive the appreciation we deserve. Attend a play for the sole purpose of watching it, not for extra credit; go to a volleyball game or to an Orchestra concert. Those students devote as much time and energy as any athlete at Lake Forest High School. You’re probably thinking: “I’ve never heard them complain.” You’re right, they haven’t. But they could. Every LFHS student puts in hard work and dedication in their respective hobbies, and that deserves just as much support as any team.
We have so many talented people that walk these halls every single day. We are athletes. We are musicians. We are club representatives. But most importantly, we are Scouts. And that, in of itself, deserves to be recognized.
Holly Malnati is a senior at Lake Forest High School, and on the staff of The Forest Scout school news website, where this opinion article first was published.
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