Football deserves its fans

Does the football team actually get more support than other sports teams and clubs at BB&N? I have heard this question many times around school from disgruntled students, and this was a hot topic in one of my Community Day workshops. So even though it’s not football season, I thought it would be important for me, a member of the team, to give my two cents. There is a lot of clarifying to do when it comes to the support that football players receive.

The biggest complaint I’ve heard is about how much money the school gives to the team. I know very little about what goes on with all the money the school has and what they do with it, but I don’t think they huddle together and decide football is getting it all. Yes, I do agree that other school programs deserve more recognition, but that’s not the point. 

At the beginning of the season, each family on the team is invited to contribute a suggested sum of money up front that is used as the budget for the year. This budget goes to buying team dinners and the season banquet. Most years, there is unused money at the end of the season, which is then transferred to the next season’s budget. The team budget is run by the parents, particularly the captains’ parents, who are just as involved and invested in the team as Coach Willey. The varsity jackets, team jackets, sweatpants, sweatshirts—all are paid for by the athletes or their families, as is the case for all other BB&N sports teams here. This year, an anonymous parent donor was nice enough to pay for every Bowl ring so that families possibly unable to cover the cost could be part of the celebration.

Another complaint I hear often is about how the football team gets new uniforms and equipment every year. To clarify, we don’t get new helmets every year. We just borrow the helmets for the season and return them to the Cage at the end to be washed and checked for all safety regulations. The only changes from last year to this year were the stickers and decals. Yes, we did just get new jerseys, but so did a lot of the other teams, like the field hockey and lacrosse teams; that happens on a rotating basis. And if you saw how ripped up some jerseys get after a game, you’d agree new ones made sense.

When it comes to facilities, it’s safe to say the football team practices and plays on a surface far less enjoyable than those of every other BB&N sports team. Unlike the soccer and lacrosse teams, we can’t reap the benefits of a fully lit turf field. The hockey teams have, in my opinion, one of the nicest rinks in New England, with excellent viewing spots for spectators. And although the squash team has to commute to Boston University for their practices, using collegiate facilities isn’t bad at all. The fencing team now practices at the respected Boston Fencing Club in Brighton because their old facility, the Nicholas Athletic Center basketball court, did not meet its needs. The University of Florida Gators call their home stadium “The Swamp,” but our field, Nichols Field, is actually a swamp. Each year by the time the regular season rolls around, the field has become a dirt pit. One upside is that the tough conditions give us an advantage over other teams.

Student support for football has improved greatly, as seen by lots of school spirit this past season. But the school has also used that attention to promote other teams. Homecoming no longer involves just the football team, but the soccer teams as well. Two years ago at Homecoming, Boys’ Varsity Soccer played Belmont Hill in a Friday night contest that saw the sidelines packed with students from all grades supporting the Knights. This year’s Homecoming, Girls’ Varsity Soccer played Exeter right after the football game, when many students, including many football players, headed over to the turf to support them. Football may get the most attention from the student body, but the school has done a lot to promote other teams, too. Also I think the student body, especially the senior class, has done a great job attending games and cheering on classmates and friends in all sports.  

In my opinion, the only real advantage the football team gets is in the college admission process (read my previous column, ‘When recruiting goes too far,’ Vol. 47, No. 5). Besides, and don’t take this the wrong way, these days the football team consistently wins—and is one of the few boys’ teams that does. Two New England championships, three straight Bowl games, and a 22–5 record the past three seasons is noteworthy. I don’t see the problem in giving recognition to successful athletic programs.  

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