Not only did we screw up, we screwed up on live, national television.
I'm sure most schools have some sort of cross-town rivalry. Our school has had one since it was built, and we played the annual "Battle of the Bay" this week. Not only did we play, but we played in a small stadium (in years past we've managed to play this at the larger college stadium) with six cameras from Fox Sports Network rolling live. "Game of the Week," indeed.
The highlights? Packed stands by kickoff (any other game, it's the middle of the second quarter). Angry tirades in the parking lot. Parents tailgating before the game (alcohol and all). 7th graders throwing nachos on people over the back of the bleachers. Fights breaking out between wanna-be tough guys. People hopping over the fence. People crawling under the fence. Seniors who were not only drinking out of red SOLO cups, but smelling like they were drinking out of red SOLO cups.
And, of course, the chanting.
When the first half ended, the opposition had to walk right past our stands. Our students (and, of course, many of their parents) joined in with the sing-song chant of "F**k you, (school name withheld)" over and over again. (When I watched the replay of the game over the weekend, I could hear this chanting as the commentator interviewed the opposing school's coach.)
In the end, we lost the game. Fitting, I thought, since there was so much going on that night--the fights, the drinking, the cameras--that the game seemed to be incidental anyway. Moreover, I don't think our crowd deserved the win (although I now understand why Superbowl-winning fans burn their own communities to the ground). We didn't really bust anybody, but made sure that everyone made it out alive. At this game, each year, I have a simple philosophy--no autopsy, no problem. I can only control so much, especially when the parents control nothing at all.
Next week I'll be asked what can be done to prevent this in the years to come. I think we should play the game at an undisclosed football field in Palmdale and webcast it back here. Let this be the problem of the local sports bars.