Fight fiercely, HarvardLongtime readers of this space know that your correspondent is a dinosaur.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Longtime readers of this space know that your correspondent is a dinosaur.
I’m a member of the oldest of the old schools. In fact, my school is so old it has only one room and it’s made out of rough-hewn logs. That’s why today’s new wave of “sensibility” from high school administrators has rubbed me the wrong way.
There were two items of note in the news this week, one from Minnesota and one from Wisconsin, which drew my attention. First was the news from Minneapolis that the Minnesota State High School League took no action on a series of emergency measures that might have helped school districts trim athletic costs during these difficult economic times.
Some of the ideas weren’t so good – trimming the number of allowable games by state mandate when a school district already has the ability to trim a schedule on its own was one. Yet one of the ideas brought forward was excellent, because it would roll back an idea that should never have been tried in the first place.
One of the proposals turned down was to reduce the number of classes in some sports. This proposal meets with a one-word reaction from the Catbird Seat: bravo. Back in the day when hockey and basketball each had one class like God intended, it was simpler. The MSHSL didn’t have to rent out more than one expensive facility for its tournaments, didn’t have to scatter state quarterfinal events all over the state, and more importantly, its championships were really championships.
Fewer classes are a good thing, friends. And I say that in a region where most of the schools are small. Remember, the emphasis in high school sports is supposed to be about participation. Not winning a state championship. Adoption of this measure alone would serve as a reminder. The sports where a reduction was being considered wasn’t made public in reportage, but it’s a good start. The MSHSL needs to consider it – and needs to do so soon.
Speaking of participation, there’s also the matter of Ashland High School, which is cracking down on the cheers uttered by some of its students. FOX-21 reported last week that some of the classic cheers of prep sports are actually against the rules of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, and that students can be punished for cheering them.
Ashland Athletic Director Linda Olson is taking heat for doing her job and enforcing the rules. This space has always supported playing by the rules, and it always will. But it also stands for common sense, and that is what seems to be lacking here.
The rules forbid negative cheering of any kind, and also forbid such sports traditions as booing a referee’s call. While everyone wants to respect opponents and officials, it’s certainly legitimate to ask when enough is really enough. It’s also legitimate to ask if the rules are being enforced in a uniform fashion around the state.
Certainly no one wants rude or boorish behavior at events where kids are involved – and we don’t want our kids participating in behavior that demeans or degrades. But if you’re enforcing for one, enforce for all. That’s fair – and that is really playing by the rules. But if the objective is to make sure everyone who leaves the gym or the rink feels good about themselves when they go, why do we bother to keep score?
It also leads me to wonder what makes an acceptable cheer nowadays. What will make us all feel good? I think of the words of legendary humorist Tom Lehrer, who wrote a famous parody cheer in the 1950s titled “Fight Fiercely, Harvard.”
As parody, it’s instructive. As a cheer, it might be the next big thing:
Fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight
Demonstrate to them our skill
Albeit they possess the might
Nonetheless we have the will
How we shall celebrate our victory
We shall invite the whole team up for tea (how jolly)
Hurl that spheroid down the field
And fight, fight, fight
Fight fiercely, Harvard, Fight, fight, fight
Impress them with our prowess, do
Oh, fellows, do not let the Crimson down
Be of stout heart and true
Come on, chaps, fight for Harvard’s glorious name
Won’t it be peachy if we win the game (oh, goody)
Let’s try not to injure them
But fight, fight, fight (Let’s not be rough, though)
Fight, fight, fight (And do fight fiercely)
Fight, fight, fight!