Whose Got Spirit? Not Me.

Yup, you heard it here first, folks. Except that “breaking news” sure isn’t new. It’s basically common knowledge.

No matter what school I’ve been to throughout my education, the energy I put into school pride and spirit has been zero to none. You’ll never see me rooting for my school’s athletic teams or dressing up during homecoming week. You’re more likely to see me secretly supporting the opposing team, if anything. Not to mention that dressed up mascots make me a little uneasy.

I try to understand why people enjoy it so much, why people feel such a burning passion for sports and school activities. Besides the fact I know nothing about sports to know when to jump up and down, if I’m ever forced to attend an athletic event, I will be the one dazing out whilst everybody else is screaming at the top of their lungs, faces painted in school colors. These moments outside of education just do not attract my attention.

And funny enough, the schools I’ve attended have been very focused on these aspects of education and community. Well, not necessarily education. That just ends up in the background. My hometown thrives off of high school athletics, putting virtually all of their money and attention on the teams and athletes. As a student who spent most of her time in the band, choir, and theatre, hopefully you can hear my implied bitter tone.

My tone is especially bitter when thinking about the countless times I’ve had coaches as teachers. Now there is a key difference between teachers who coach and coaches who teach. The former actually knows their stuff in the classroom. The latter, not so much. But those flaws are usually tossed aside on game day. Personally, I go to school for academic aspect. That’s what the institutions are there for. I want to learn something new. I could care less about the name and pride of my school.

Having school spirit does have some benefits, like creating a sense of community and uplifting morale. But for students like me, I don’t need those things to convince me to come to school and get involved. I have enough motivation in my education to really find a benefit in those activities. Heck, they can even be distracting at times.

I thought after leaving high school, I wouldn’t really have to worry about not having school spirit. I went to a small enough school with a large enough majority of students with at least a sliver of school spirit that my lack of any made me a misfit. Obviously having a larger population of people and greater freedom, the problem is undoubtedly lessened. But when paying my tuition and housing, a certain added expense always makes me slightly cringe: the activity fee. Which is usually for those campus-wide activities and sporting events. Of which, in my two years at college, I have attended a whopping zero.

It would be different if the school was transparent in what they spent the money on, as I would be more than happy to support the fine arts programs. I’m a tad biased, but I find way more value in these activities versus passing a ball across a field for a stadium of screaming fans. Even if students could choose the areas they wanted to support, I would be all for it. Chances are, a majority would choose athletics and spirit activities anyways.

So if you wonder why I specifically choose to not wear school colors on certain days, own no piece of school-branded merchandise, or hide in my dorm room during games, I don’t have a clear answer besides angst. I know I’m not alone in my distaste for over-hyped school spirit, but us folks tend to get pushed to the sidelines (no pun intended).

It can even be overwhelming to me at times seeing how passionate and emotional people get over certain schools and sports. How they can start a screaming match with each other or disrespect opposing teams. How normally decent and courteous people can turn those traits on their heads in the name of athletics. Perhaps I’m dramatizing things a little, but not much. It makes me both confused and taken aback.

Even though they aren’t as exciting, I still wish there was more excitement surrounding new theatre productions or academic research. I’m simple in that I don’t need flashy activities to draw me in, but I much prefer activities that can make me think. It’s not like smart people can’t enjoy sports. My family is an obvious example. But they aren’t for me, and I shouldn’t feel any sense of guilt for not participating. And I shouldn’t be forced to spend my money on these activities, especially when people like me make up a small minority.

And school shouldn’t have to be super flashy and have special themed days and decorations to draw students in. Education is exciting. Learning new information is exciting. Answering a question right in class or leading a discussion doesn’t need a winning touchdown to get people hyped up. Well, at least to me.

Call me a party-pooper all you want. Maybe if I understood all the rules of sports, I’d have a different opinion, but I doubt it. And I’m not changing any time soon. Would it be cool to have more emphasis on the joy of academics or even music and art? Sure, but I don’t expect it any time soon. Just as nobody should hold their breath waiting for when I start screaming at a referee.

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