On the Thursday night news, I saw aerial footage of the damage done by vandals to East's football field. (It reminded me of pictures of those farm fields where the corn is flattened out into strange, circular patterns.) Someone drove a car onto the field and performed spinouts on the grass turf. It was an intentional act of vandalism; the perpetrator(s) cut through a chain in order to get access to the field. As a result some of East's home football games will now have to be played at... Central! For the story, click here.
In the global scheme of things, high school football probably doesn't amount to much. But when it comes to the world of East v. Central, it is a big deal.
When it came to extracurricular activities, athletics was the top dog when it came to the allocation of funds, even when I was at East As a drama nerd in high school, I can personally attest to the fact that many drama/musical productions, instead of being held in an appropriate venue, were staged in the "cafetorium" (the cafeteria that doubled as the auditorium). But even us drama/yearbook/newspaper geeks loved going to football and basketball games, especially the East-Central matchups.
There was always a mounting sense of excitement in the days before any of the East-Central football and basketball games. With the basketball games, you had to come early; it was standing room only by game time. School spirit was at a fever pitch. Jocks and band nerds alike cheered with every cheer (remember "Boom, chic-a-boom" ? what did that mean anyway?), applauded wildly when the Spartanettes performed, danced in the bleachers in time to the pep band, and, of course, hurled insults at the Central side of the gym, mostly consisting of "Central sucks!" which the teachers dutifully tried to quash each and every time. (Yes, it was poor sportsmanship, but it was a heckuva lot of fun.)
When I was a junior, because our homecoming football game was a night game, it had to be held at Central because that was the school with the football field lights (and yes, there was controversy about that).
That game just didn't feel right. It was "homecoming" after all. (I remember this game specifically because one of my good friends was elected to court that year, and we had to hustle her into a car after the traditional parade because she was shivering to death in her peach ball gown.)
So, I sympathize with all who are disappointed over this turn of events.
Is the rivalry between East and Central a "manufactured rivalry," as posited by Cindy Kilkenny in a recent blog? Well, the school board may add fuel to the fire, but rivalry is inherent in competition. Should "rivalry" escalate to the point where harm is done, whether to persons or property, then it is no longer rivalry but a crime.
Even after all these years, my husband, a Lancer, and I, a Spartan, occasionally rib each other about our respective allegiances. I also admit to having an occasional immature urge to yell "Go East!" whenever I drive-by a Lancerette car wash.
It might be interesting to attend an East-Central game now, just to see if it is the same.
We would of course need to sit on the East side.