Stifled Spirit

Rules for showing spirit at varsity football games create controversy

Student fans cheer at the Oct. 10 game against Vandegrift. The Rangers won in overtime, 56-52.

Hands connected by pinkies sway in unison under the Friday night lights as hundreds of fans sing, “for the red, black, and silver. And the glory of Vista Ridge High.” After a shootout against Vandegrift on Oct. 10, the Rangers brought a 57-52 win home, outscoring the Vipers in overtime.

Despite the team’s current 6-0 record and top spot in district 25-5A, the student section hasn’t been able to win when it comes to spirit. After silly string, confetti, signs, air horns, vuvuzelas and glitter were confiscated at the first home game on Sept. 5, students are questioning the reasons for the regulations.

“There needs to be a set line of what we can and cannot do,” senior pep rally emcee Elizabeth Svienty said. “They’re looking into all these grey lines when it needs to be black and white. It should be, ‘yes, we can have it or no, we cannot.’ There is no consistency, nor communication between the administration and students.”

However, assistant principals Bryon Ellison and Stacie Seveska addressed students in the morning announcements today and encouraged students to follow the specific guidelines or the team could receive a penalty, or the school could even be fined.

“We love you guys being in the stands and supporting our football team,” Seveska said. “We have some of the best fans and one of the best student sections not only in Texas, but I would say, in the world. We want you to continue to come to the football games and support our team.”

Now in district 25-5A, rules from the District Executive Committee, LISD stadium policies, and UIL and school rules determine what spirit gear is allowed. The stadium guidelines state that no cannons, noisemakers such as horns or whistles, flags or confetti are allowed. Spirit signs must be made of vinyl that can be tied to stadium railing, and no paper, painted, or homemade signs of any kind are allowed. UIL rules prohibit confetti, but that horns might be allowed if mutually agreed by upon participating schools. Finally, campus rules do not allow backpacks or the throwing of any items.

“All we can do is clap,” senior Japreece Dean said. “As long as it’s not hurting anyone or hurting the football team, we should be able to do what we want.”

Nine out of 10 students surveyed said the school did not have enough spirit, and 99 percent of students do not agree with the rules that the administration is enforcing.

The fact that there’s inconsistency throughout Texas, throughout our district, throughout our campus, makes it impossible to enforce it at all.”

— Elizabeth Svienty, 12

While the LISD stadium policies should apply to all high schools in the district, Rouse high school senior Jacob Alger said Rouse’s student section is allowed body paint, trash cans, noisemakers, homemade signs and throwing streamers.

“If you don’t enforce a law, then it’s not a law,” Svienty said. “The fact that there’s inconsistency throughout Texas, throughout our district, throughout our campus, makes it impossible to enforce it at all because you can’t have law and say ‘you can do this, but you can’t have certain parts of it.’”

Ellison also said another reason for prohibited items is safety and the cleanliness of the stadium after games.

“We have to abide by the rules,” Ellison said. “Games aren’t just for students. Parents are there as well, and we are only trying to provide a good atmosphere for everyone coming out to support.”

Although Ellison said there have been complaints from parents, football mom Kristie Geracci said she loves when the student section gets loud and shows spirit.

“The student section is what motivates the team during those tough times; the adrenaline that starts pumping when the players are motivated by their peers is what brings home the ‘W’,” Geracci said. “And none of that bothers me or any of the parents near me. As long as they are safe, the glitter and confetti don’t ruin the turf, and the students are willing to throw their trash in the proper receptacles, I am all for student spirit.”

Some students, like sophomore Kyle John, said he and his friends would volunteer to stay and clean up after the games.

“Not being able to use noisemakers, and other spirit stuff kind of kills the mood,” John said. “Having them just makes us louder, and everyone feeds off the positive energy.”

Although there is a list of prohibited items, principal Paul Johnson suggested alternatives like face painting, filling bottles with beans or rocks and bringing trash can lids to bang on. Clappers and cowbells are also approved items.

“When the student section gets hyped, it makes us hyped to play,” junior running back Bryce Doll said. “People need to get loud. Start doing more chants and bring stuff that makes noise.”

With only four district games left and Homecoming tonight, the student section faces the task of maintaining the momentum of the spirit while following the guidelines.

“Our goal is to support the student body, to make sure that it’s a good experience for everybody and to make sure we support our team,” Johnson said. “We absolutely don’t want people to think, ‘Oh, well, they don’t want us to have fun.’ We’ve always had a pretty good student section — a great student section, actually, but we’ve got a clear set of guidelines that we are expected to follow.”

 

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