A Rivalry to End All Rivalries

Evelyn Lowen, Staff Reporter

In years past, the Washington-Liberty (WL) vs. Yorktown football game has been on a Friday night, just like any other high school game. This year, however, the rivalry game is scheduled for Saturday, November 6 at 3:30 p.m.

The administration from both sides agreed that it would be beneficial for everyone to permanently schedule the WL vs. Yorktown football game for Saturday afternoons. Our school’s athletic director, Michael Kroolfeld, was involved with making this decision. At the 2019 WL vs. Yorktown football game, there was heightened energy and excitement, which inherently created a more competitive atmosphere, but also enticed some negative behavior. 

“Unfortunately at that particular game, there was some behavior, mainly by our crowd, because we were lucky enough to pull out the victory. The entire community was endangered at that game and this caused concern on the part of school leadership at both schools,” Kroolfeld said. 

Our school has announced that the process of receiving tickets for this game will also be different than any other game. There will be no ticket sales at the gate. Tickets were sold prior to the game via a link provided by the school. 

The general public – anyone not a teacher or student at WL or Yorktown or persons designated by a member from the Football, Cheer, Dance, Marching Band or Color Guard teams – will not be allowed to purchase tickets. Students from the teams that play and perform during the football games will be able to distribute their tickets to their chosen people. 

Even student tickets will be restricted. Tickets for students were released at various times during the week on a first come, first serve basis. Additionally, there is a set senior-only ticket allocation, which gave seniors an opportunity to purchase tickets ahead of other students. 

One of the biggest concerns of the increasingly competitive rivalry is the expressed negativity and hatred towards the opposing side. The chaotic atmosphere at the football games has led to students’ poor decision-making, which most likely would not have occurred outside of this stimulating environment. 

“The actual behaviors and comments don’t reflect the friendships that the students and athletes have outside of school,” Kroolfeld said. 

While the football team and coaches understand the severity of the situation, many believe that there are other ways to address this issue. The WL vs. Yorktown game is always the last game of the season, just before playoffs. With the game now being moved to Saturday, that means that the team is one day short of preparation time ahead of playoffs. 

This could potentially throw some players off of their normal game day routine, with the game scheduled for much earlier in the day than the usual time. Additionally, the team will be unable to watch the film of the game before the beginning of the next week. The junior varsity coach, Alec Hicks, is concerned about the change of the game time.

“It’s a football game and I don’t think the actions of others outside the football team should make them change the game and put us at a loss going into the playoffs,” Hicks said. 

Since there has always been a natural and strong rivalry, due to the fact that these two schools are regarded as having two of the most accomplished athletic programs in the county, the rivalry itself is not the main problem. Both Yorktown and WL sports teams have greatly improved over the years, which has increased the competitiveness of the rivalry and has allowed for better athletic experiences. 

“That game [against WL] has been one of the most exciting games of the season. I think it’s something for the teams to always fall back on, no matter if you’re 0-9 or 9-0, if you can beat the other team in Arlington, you’ve made your season,” Hicks said. 

Our rivalry with WL is an Arlington tradition and gives players on all sports teams a chance to win, even if they have had an unsuccessful season. A healthy and competitive rivalry is important and adds to the high school athletic experience for players and fans. 

“Having a rivalry is a great thing and being able to come together after that rivalry, no matter who wins or loses, that shows what sports are all about. It’s coming together and being a good loser and a good winner,” Hicks said. 

Many are concerned about the future of our rivalry due to the increasing destructive behavior that arises at the games. The rivalry has evolved over the years, and it now is more disruptive in the stands and can even cause some issues in our school with students and teachers. 

“I think sometimes the fans over-heighten it. I think that happens even in professional sports,” Hicks said. 

The Arlington community hopes that this rivalry can return to being positive, exciting and engaging. This sports tradition adds camaraderie and school spirit to the high school experience.