Soccer Scored an Equalizer… But Is It All Equal?

Sophie Karaba  The day after the Cubs won the World Series, pretty much everyone at Latin was excited. This excitement carried over into gathering, where Ms. Nelson got on stage and the cross country, volleyball, and soccer captains spoke about their upcoming competitions. Cross country was going to state the next day, volleyball had sectionals that night, and soccer talked about their historic super-sectionals win and their game on Friday. And then, in the most surprising part of the announcement, everyone was told that students would be excused from their last two blocks on Friday to go support the boys soccer team. Many had wanted to go, but didn’t think they could make it in time. Now that they were excused from class, students immediately started making plans to go to the game. As one of the captains of the tennis team, I had mixed feelings when I heard that announcement. Tennis had a historic season too, with our one doubles and one singles teams leading us to Latin’s highest ever state finish at 3rd place, but not many people knew about it for a while because there was no gathering time for us to speak until two weeks after state. There was no fan bus offered for our state tournament that also happened on a Friday. So when certain teams got an entire gathering dedicated to them the day after their wins, and one got a fan bus and fans excused from class, I was confused. Of course I was excited for the boys, who went on to win state. But this excitement was a little bittersweet for me because I was sad that my team didn’t get the same opportunity to have peers supporting us during our biggest matches. Excusing students from two classes was a decision that impacted every single upper schooler, whether or not they chose to go to watch the game. Classes were basically empty that afternoon, so the students who went to school were not able to learn very much. Our school has a really good balance between academics and extracurriculars, but when extracurriculars impact the academics of every student, I can’t help but think about how this balance is shifting. I’m not complaining about the excused absence that I got on Friday, but I am hoping that from now on, every sport gets the opportunity to have fans able to watch their competitions. Obviously there will always be some sports that people support more than others, for various reasons. Soccer and lacrosse games are always well attended, but I never saw more than two students at a tennis match throughout my three years on the team (and saying that “Waveland is too far” is not a good excuse— Waveland is way closer than the Wilson turf). And there is a culture, in both our society and our school, that boys sports are “more competitive,”,“more fun to watch,” and “harder” than girls sports. These words come to life at the Depaul basketball games every year: the girls always have very few supporters, but the whole school always shows up for the boys. Boys soccer is already a well supported and well respected sport, so why can’t we also send fan buses and make huge announcements for the sports that don’t get as much support at our school? Already I have heard promises that every sport will get the opportunities that the soccer team did. Girls volleyball got fan buses to their state games, and lots of people went. I hope that Latin can become a place where not only all teams of all genders are equally supported, but also where plays, musicals, dance shows, and art exhibitions are equally supported as well. At a time when our country, and even our Latin community, feels divided, I hope that we can all come together and cheer on our fellow athletes, performers, and artists. So let’s all mark our calendars for the next band concert or swim meet and show up with posters and orange and blue apparel, because as a community we need to get behind our peers and support all of their hard work. ]]>