Latin Fan Busses: Have They Really Changed Anything?

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Bianca Voss and Lily Campbell Latin is filled with outstanding athletes, whose games are played all over the greater Chicago area. However, most students often don’t attend the games due to prior commitments and the distance they must travel in order to watch. As a small independent school in the heart of the city, there isn’t much room for our own sports fields and stadiums, in comparison to other schools. To solve this problem, many students and faculty alike have encouraged the use of fan buses to take students to games that are relatively far away. Nonetheless, there is still a stark difference in Latin’s fan turnout versus larger high schools, even when fans from the opposing high school travel just as far—if not farther—to support their classmates. Varsity Girls Volleyball traveled to Normal, Illinois to play in their state tournament on November 10. A fan bus was offered, but only a handful of students signed up to go. When asked about the lack of fans at their games, senior and outside hitter for the team, Isa Lostaglio, said “All the schools, even those far away, brought more students” which, in turn, “created a stronger energy and encouragement for the other team.” Even with the option of a fan bus, students strayed away from attending their games. When asking other seniors their opinions on the matter, most said they wouldn’t go because of their numerous extracurriculars and school commitments. Senior Benny Cartwright said that while fan buses would “encourage more students to go,” their “plans and commitments don’t allow for students to attend games.” In a similar fashion, Senior Ruby Limanowski stressed the importance of distance being a factor in students’ decision to not attend games. Senior Jack Tempone spoke about his rationale for riding the fan bus down to state: “[the seniors] were playing their last games of their high school careers, and for some of my friends it was their last game ever.” Additionally, Tempone being a baseball player in the spring, felt that “[the seniors] support [him] at [his] baseball games,” so he felt it was “only right to support [the volleyball team] when they go to state.” Senior and right-side player Cici Carr expressed that “the most frustrating part was that [the team] predicted that no one would come even with the option of a fan bus,” given the less-than-impressive track record Latin fans had previously demonstrated during the team’s first run to state in 2016. Faced with such a “disappointing reality,” Carr reflected on the upsetting precedents that were set by the 2016 and 2018 state trips. To the team, the low turnout sent a message that “[volleyball] would never be characterized socially as an event that people would want to go to, despite the fact that we were accomplishing something that had never been done in Latin history.” And while the volleyball players were disappointed by their lack of fans, the few Latin fans that went such as Jack Tempone also felt “intimidated” by the large fan sections that the other teams had corralled. Tempone even looked up the other high schools, noting that “their school[s] were the same distance away and they brought ten times as many fans as we did.” While it is true that Latin students lead busy lives, there is much work to be done in terms of when Latin students decide to put their extra-curricular activities aside and rally for their classmates. During Varsity Boys Soccer’s trip to state in 2016, students happily penciled-in time to support their friends. Some students attended even after spending the day celebrating the Chicago Cubs World Series victory. However, the same cannot be said for sports such as Girl’s Volleyball. Carr noted that while the team was disappointed by their lack of fans, they were “not surprised” because “[Latin students] rarely prioritize girl’s sports,” a statement that is reflected in years of discrepancies in attendance of female and male sporting events at Latin. Perhaps the most obvious discrepancy is at the semi-annual Latin-Parker DePaul basketball games. The girl’s basketball game, played before the boy’s, attracts a quarter of the fans as the men’s game, and the fans themselves are not limited to students. While the majority of the faculty is consistently present during both games, most parents, students, and other faculty continue to attend solely the boy’s game. Despite encouragements from members of the community, the turn out for the girl’s game remains the same. So, how can the student body and community celebrate athletes from afar? First, it must start within the community. As a student body, showing up equally to both girl’s and men’s sports at Latin will broadcast to classmates that the community cares about athletic successes, even if it means sacrificing a bit of personal time.]]>