An Open Letter To Newton South Sports Fans

Photo by Katie Asch.

By Brian Baron
English Department Chair

So that was fun, wasn’t it? That volleyball game Wednesday?

The best volleyball game I’ve ever seen, although there’s admittedly not a lot of competition for that title.

But congratulations on showing up. In war paint, with some organized cheers, and even with an attempt at coordinated white t-shirts. It wasn’t quite at white-out level, but kudos on the matching outfits. The whole thing felt fun, goofy, cathartic. Like, you know, high school. Not the miniature college campus we sometimes imagine ourselves to be.

All that said, I have a bone to pick. Two, actually.

Bone #1: Opening introductions. The entire South student section turns its back on the opposing team as the players’ names are called. Now, this may be appropriate if there is a real grievance–whatever the volleyball equivalent would be of an opposing pitcher throwing at your team’s best player in last night’s game.

But that wasn’t what was going on here. As far as I know, the only real grievance we had with Needham was that they had a better volleyball team than we did last year.

Turning your backs just plays into everyone’s worst assumptions about the entitlement and arrogance of Newton kids. To badly paraphrase Mark Twain: Better to face forward and let them assume than to turn your backs and remove all doubt.

Bone #2: Singing “Hey, Hey, Hey Goodbye” (I’m sure that song has an actual name, but you know what I mean) as the opposing team, which left its guts on the floor in an intense five-game match, walks off.

I’m sure the South team left with much respect for the skill of the Needham side.

But what you did was the opposite; experts call it “rubbing it in,” and it was disrespectful rather than exuberant and fun.

I get it—as a school, we don’t have long experience with all of this hootin’ and hollerin’. You’re largely taking your cues for how to run one of these student section thingies from that one Duke tournament game you saw on ESPN and that time you visited your sister in Ann Arbor. Maybe we can get the kids who run the student section at the spelling bee to give you some tips.

Also, your evening wasn’t without its high points. The national anthem after you had your giant flag taken away was nice. I didn’t completely understand what Cam Vicars was doing with his weird war chant in the fourth game, but it seemed inspired. And even the “tank top” cheer at the Needham student section was all in good fun.

But the opening and closing were lacking. In those moments, you didn’t live up to the quality of your team’s performance on the court.

The good news is that you have at least one more chance, in the state semi-final next Tuesday. Here’s hoping you use it well.

This opinion reflects the views of a single party and in no way reflects the views of the newspaper.


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  1. Its a volleyball game, its supposed to be competitive. Why do we need to raise our kids in a politically correct environment? The world is full of people rooting against you, that’s just reality. Why do we need to shield the opposing team from that? I’m not saying we should not be respectful, but you have to realize it’s a game full of high schoolers, do you really not expect chants against the opposing team to occur? Its part of the environment in any sports game and it really isn’t hurting anybody, it only adds to the passion and excitement of a game. Anyway, don’t you have an English department to run?

    • Hyla, for starters I sincerely hope you are not a parent as the prospect of you passing on your world view to a defensive child is both alarming and reason for concern. Secondly, the thesis of the above article was not about being “politcaly correct” but rather showing a visiting town’s sportsteam that we are in fact a community of educated and compassionate students. As for your statement about the world being sic. “full of people rooting against you, thats just reality.”, I have to ask just which world it is that you live in? Is the message you hope to impart on your children and their community one of fear and cynical malice? How is it that you can confuse misguided insicurity and a perverted sense of school pride with “excitement” and “passion”? This is not the pep rally from Grease we’re taking about. Its the 21st century and its time that we take a step back and really think about what values we want our kids to take away from their four years at south. As for the english department, the article above does a pretty good job at illustrating the department head doing EXACTLY what he should be: calling out the actions and people that at times make south a cold and isolating place to be a student. Lets hope your reality isn’t shared by the rest of the world.

      • It’s just a fact that the world is much meaner, more evil place than we are raised to believe at Newton South. Do you really think that the Needham kids were offended by the chants? Chances are, they honestly could’nt care less, which defeats the purpose of the entire article. This is about political correctness because we are trying to shield Needham students and South students from something that really does not affect them. You’re only in high school once, and not doing one chant isn’t going to teach a life lesson here, just let them have a laugh, have fun for once, without bringing PC into this. NSHS is an excellent school, where the students have already learned important values, so we dont need to be on the backs of a bunch of high schoolers, who are only acting like any other high school would for their age/maturity. I don’t want to instill anybody with fear or malice, I want my children to be prepared for the tough world out there, where there are greedy, cruel people. You might think the US is a place where we can just ‘work together and have fun’, but the world does not work like that. I feel for yourself or your kids when they’re shocked to learn the hard way about the cruelty of the world.

        • Agreeing with leos here – maybe the world is full of cruelty , greed and malice, but then shouldn’t we be teaching our kids how to handle it rather than telling them to pass it on and become perpetrators of the same? We shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon of “everyone does it so it must be okay.” It’s about being good people, or at least trying to live up to higher virtue, instead of holding up a flag of “political correctness.” Sometimes we all need a reminder to be a little nicer.

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