HS Insider

Fighting for spirit: High school vs. professional football

by Jessica Zhou

An issue raised on social media after one of West Torrance’s home games was dissatisfaction with the lackluster amount of spirit mustered by the student section. North High School had defeated West, 35-17, at the homecoming game. There were moments during the game when North’s student section could be heard across the field from the Warriors’ side, as the cheers from West’s side eventually died down.

Sophomore Katie Timmerman believed that West was “spoiled with wins last year, so the student section didn’t know what losing felt like.” She believed the football team would feel more supported if the student section were to cheer as loud as possible, regardless of the outcome.

Not everyone shared this sentiment, although the student section was “hyped in the very beginning,” explained junior Brittney Sanchez. Eventually, West began to lose, and enthusiasm progressively decreased until attention was diverted from the game to phones and nearby friends.

Having attended the game for his segment of “Sports Desk,” Sports Director at Torrance CitiCABLE Collin Kushner said: “I truly feel that [a] loud student section can help boost a team’s morale.” While acknowledging that morale cannot make up for gaps in athleticism, he does “believe that it helps on the mental side of things.”

According to sophomore Steven Le, regarding teams that decline in performance: “you forget about them, just like the Lakers,” referencing the professional Los Angeles basketball team. His comment reflects the mentality many pro sports spectators hold, favoring and supporting a certain team based on their athletic prowess, manifested by the games they win.

Based on records of past seasons on MaxPreps, West plays anywhere between 10-14 games each season. In the Fall 2014 season, the team had a near perfect winning streak, which contrasts with this season’s 6 wins and 5 losses. Are West High students justified in their decrease in enthusiasm for their sports team?

While they are closely related and seemingly identical, there are nuances that differentiate high school-level football from collegiate and even professional football. For one, players at the higher levels, are rewarded heavily for performing well. At the collegiate level, this means scholarships, and at the professional level, it means six to seven-digit salaries. When playing football in high school, whether as a freshman or varsity team member, it’s done out of passion; there is no monetary compensation for the team’s efforts.

Members of the football team agree that there is much more of a personal nature to high school sports, football or otherwise. Students ought to be concerned with the performance of the various representative teams and organizations throughout their campus and have pride in the people they go to school with.

“I personally feel terrible when people stop paying attention to our game,” explained junior EJ Hatter. He believes that with high school sports, students should be especially spirited because they are “watching people [they] know or see around school playing something they are passionate about.”

Similarly, senior John Giradini believes that high school and pro sports are two completely different entities. “Fans should cheer as loud as they can the whole game to support [the team],” he emphasized.

When athletes play in professional sports, the qualifier itself indicates that it is their job to perform well, and they are getting paid to do so. In the words of senior Bobby Fujioka, “high school sports are for pride and yourself.”

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