Let Them Cheer: Athletes are Fans Too

In last weekend’s Andover/Exeter athletic events – the final chance for Seniors to attend the winter competitions – school rules forced some athletes to return early and miss the later games. All of the students who had participated in contests early in the afternoon, mostly junior varsity athletes, had to depart Exeter on team buses, even while several games were still in progress. Swimmers from the Boys Junior Varsity squad, for instance, raced at 1 p.m. and were required to return to Andover on team buses. Consequently, they had to miss the Girls Varisty Hockey game and the Boys Varsity Basketball contest. The school only permitted a student to remain after his or her team’s match if the student had parents present at the competitions. The parents would have to make special arrangements with the coach and drive their child back themselves. But most boarding students did not have parents attending the game. Phillips Academy boasts about its overwhelming school spirit, yet it forces many studednts to sit on an empty campus, when they would prefer to cheer on Big Blue against archrival Exeter. Andover clearly cares that school spirit is fostered on Academy Hill. School-run Blue Key Heads cheer at almost every game, and it is not uncommon to see self-organized students smeared in blue war paint, prepared for the battle against the Red. So why turn such passionate students away? The bus system to Exeter was not sufficient. Had the coaches found out which students wanted to stay longer at Exeter a few days in advance, and sent the list to the Director of Students Activities, the school would have been able to accommodate them. Understandably, there were logistical reasons that students on team buses could not ride the “fan bus” back to school. But how much does it really cost to run a bus for an extra couple hours? Is the price too costly to allow the Seniors on junior varsity teams to see their last Andover/Exeter winter competitions?