I live in a school district that for all practical purposes is probably the envy of the world. The programs and opportunities my kids have in this district are limitless, technology is everywhere. 95% of the teachers are incredible with the kids – concerned more about that they are actually learning, not just passing tests.
For all the positives – and there are many – our high school has a serious deficiency in their sense of humor. And today we got our annual email reminder of this fact. More on this in a moment.
Over the years, I’ve seen some truly funny things that kids have tried to pull off. We have a couple of students that love to dress up in those morph suits that absolutely look ridiculous. I think every campus has these kinds of kids. Those suits that cover the entire body with no eyes or mouth? Hysterical. These guys love to run around and get the crowd fired up.
This activity was quickly stopped by the administration because it was ‘unsportsmanlike’ to the visiting team. Particularly the dancing behind the basketball goal while they were shooting free throws.
I understand the need for sportsmanship. I even understand teaching our kids to not boo. But dancing behind a basketball isn’t insulting or degrading to the other team. It’s not destructive either except maybe to that guy’s dating life. So I kinda don’t see the big deal.
As a high schooler back in the ’80s we had plenty of unsportsmanlike behavior in games that escalated to fights after games that never should have happened. I can remember dodging cups and programs, while popcorn and cursing fell down upon us like rain. Can’t tell you how many times my teammates were called the “N” word. I understand we want to stop that kind of behavior.
But I also remember shooting free throws while the opposing students had posters of Kathy Ireland waving around. Yes, it was the ’80s and I may be dating myself but it was probably the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. And yes, they were very distracting. It was genius and funny without being insulting, destructive, and degrading.
I remember running out of the tunnel at one school where the entire stands read newspapers until their team was introduced. Not insulting, not destructive, not degrading. Just good-natured fun. And it made it so much sweeter when we ran them out of the gym a few minutes later.
Last year, some seniors had the genius idea of having everyone in the high school set their phones and iPods to go off at the same time in their lockers. It was absolutely hilarious and most classrooms couldn’t even hear it. What should have been a 3 minute laugh and giggle from every one – they do shut off eventually – turned into a witch hunt for every phone that was set to that time and the administration took all the phones up for the rest of the day. I think the students had to have their parents call or come in for them to get the phones.
That was a genius prank in that it didn’t include any destruction of property, it didn’t ridicule or humiliate any person or persons, and it could have been over and done with quickly.
So today we get an email from the district warning us that word is out that tomorrow will be the “Ride Your Bike To School Day” and we as parents should strongly discourage our kids from participating in it. A few years ago, a senior class decided to ride their bikes to school one day and it was funny and cute. It caused some minor delays but overall – it wasn’t too bad.
Of course, what started out as funny and minor, escalated to serious and stupid when a few idiot students thought it was a good idea to block buses and minivans access to the lone round-about that has access to the school. It not only was a major safety hazard at that point but it completely locked up traffic for hours.
Which in turn put the administration in an awkward position. Which pranks do you allow and which ones do you not? Which ones are fun and good-natured and which ones are dangerous and destructive? Instead of wrestling the ambiguity, they have decided to be the No-Fun Police. Pretty much anything that is remotely funny – regardless of its intent – if it is outside the ‘rules’, it is going to get a negative reaction.
I do understand the hard position the administration is in. It is much harder to determine and communicate which pranks are acceptable and which aren’t. It’s difficult at times to determine what is unsportsmanlike and what is just part of creating a home-field advantage. And there will always be kids who don’t get it regardless of what you do. They will push the envelope because they lack the maturity and discernment of knowing when to stop.
But part of growing up is figuring that line out. Part of growing up is figuring out how to be funny and full of school spirit without being destructive, bullying, and degrading. At the end of the day, this is what I want for this generation of soundbites and social media. Be funny and creative, be bold and crazy but do it in a way that is positive. That brings life and laughter – not hate and anger.
Instead, I feel like we take the easy route of just saying – ‘don’t do anything because it’s too difficult to teach you the nuances.’
Okay…well…enough of that rant.