Spirited Away


By Margaret Doyle

Sentry Staff Reporter


“Patriot pride” echoes throughout the school hallways. On
 game days, student athletes have long shown their school spirit by 
donning wacky ensembles, all involving a common theme like farm
 animals or ninjas.  Unfortunately, these well-intentioned and
 seemingly harmless spirit days have recently incited conflict, forcing
 restrictions on athletes’ creative dress up ideas.

This spirit day dress code has both costs and benefits.  While it seems a shame to lose the fun of dressing up, student
 athletes do save the time they would have otherwise spent on piecing
 together a costume the night before a game.

In the past, one might show up at school on a Monday and see about a 
dozen team members decked out in camouflage. The next day, several 
girls from another squad are sporting saggy pants and pinnies, 
mimicking the stereotypical “lax bro.” The act of being a little goofy 
would accomplish a few things for a team. Costumed players raise
 awareness for the upcoming game. Teammates bond together in possible 
mutual humiliation. Finally, the players attract amused looks in
 the hallways.

The point of spirit days is to have fun. Formerly,
 athletes were free to make memories and reminisce about “the one time
 I dressed up as a cat” and not give it a second thought.  However, 
this is beginning to change. Fewer sports teams are dressing up. 
Captains are feeling confined to a strict dress code. A few of the 
unwritten rules are as follows: No camouflage. Nothing that could
 imply war or violence, in any way, or that causes other teams to fear
for their physical safety. No outfits that target a specific social or
 ethnic group. Oh yeah, and no animal costumes.

The few spirit day adornments that are still permitted are
the simple ones. Teams can dress up formally for game days or coat
themselves in a certain color. The field hockey team is permitted to
do their signature “Do it for America” day, and the cheerleading team
still has a “bro” day and a “decades” day every once in a while. While
 most themes are innocent and therefore permitted, those that are
usually reserved for games against a big rival are best to be
forgotten. Examples are “army day,” “cowboys and Indians day,” “ninja
 day” and “hunter and prey day.”

What is the reason for the restriction of some good-spirited fun
 and laughs? The answer is simple: to avoid potential conflict with 
other school’s teams. No squad wants to be challenged about dressing 
up in camouflage on the day before their first round of regionals and
 risk a forfeit. At the varsity level of sports, it is all about 
winning, and if this means that a team has to sacrifice a few fun 
dress up days, so be it.

To me, however, this is all getting out of hand. If a team 
has to be wary on every game day about having their spirit day attire 
deemed as “inappropriate,” then you know that things are getting a 
little ridiculous. Spirit days are meant to lighten the mood, not be 
risky. Student athletes should be able to walk freely throughout the
 hallways with a painted face on select days, not hold their breath in 
dread of being subject to punishment.

Unfortunately, now more than ever in this 
hyper-competitive region, some rival teams are all too ready to 
register a complaint about the “tone” of their competitor’s spirit
 day.  If rival teams are willing to try to put an opposing captain on 
the bench because of a supposed spirit day scare, it is best to play 
it safe.

Such saboteurs are not going to go away any time soon,  so
 student athletes may just have to survive on dwindling spirit days.
 There is an upside to this, though. Having fewer spirit days just makes each one even more special. While doing a “white out” or a “blue
out” for a game may not be as entertaining as dressing up as a farm
 animal, it has the same effect.

For anyone who has ever been on teams that would dress up 
in ridiculous outfits for all of their games (at least twice a week), 
these spirit day restrictions are surprisingly welcome. I, for one,
will not miss having to fish around for pig ears the night before a
 game, or rush out to CVS 30 minutes before school searching for face paint.

While this spirit day dress code may seem unnecessary, 
it keeps teams out of trouble and saves time for the busy
 student-athlete. After all, it is better to be safe than to be