Keep the Peace

Hundreds of fans crowded into Exeter’s rink for the Andover-Exeter Boys Hockey game, one of the most anticipated of last Saturday’s matches. Throughout the scoreless first period, the roar of the crowd echoed out over the ice and across to a monolithic concrete wall, a cornerstone of Exeter’s athletic complex. “It was great, the sound was deafening,” stated goalie Chase Potter ’09. However, in the second period, both sides brought into question the acceptable limits of respect. Exeter’s first goal of the game brought about a huge celebration during which a large fish and many smaller sardines were thrown onto the ice by Exeter fans behind the Andover goal. Potter later joked, “My first reaction was ‘Wow, what if that hit me?’” During the game however, he was irked by the distractions. He was able to block out the constant Hogwarts jokes and the “Potter” chant from Exeter fans, a virtually continuous chorus during the second and third periods. “I felt that the Andover fans showed too much class,” Chase noted, wishing they would line the boards behind him after hearing the chants in the second period. While the administration urged students to cheer positively for Andover, it became apparent in the hockey game that this class was being drowned out by a sea of red. Part of this problem stemmed from the physical setting. In the areas behind the net, particularly the away team’s side, access was ambiguously restricted. Rink officials turned away Andover fans, and I was only able to gain access as a photographer. It might be true that Exeter students were also restricted from boards here, but they knew it was possible to sneak in during re-icing with the rink attendant busy. Thus, the entire glass was lined with red-clad students, and I noticed only two Andover students. For the goalie, Potter, this was a clear disadvantage. During Andover’s celebration following its first and only goal, Martha Fenton, the Athletic Director, pulled down two students who climbed the glass. The event illustrates the restraint that the administration was trying to exercise. This influence, combined with the demands of the PEAPS officers who many fans claimed tried to keep only the Andover students from banging on the boards, seemed to suppress some enthusiasm. During the last game of the day, Boys Basketball, Andover fans seemed to show more restraint, again partially due to requests of the administration to stop blowing air horns during Exeter free throws and because of the status of the game. Sitting at the goal line during this game, Exeter students asked me the names of Andover players for the expansion of already frequent taunts ringing out from students. At the game’s halftime, the step-off proved to be further continuation of this behavioral trend. Dacone Elliott ’08, a member of SLAM, was under the impression from prior communications with Precision that, unlike last year’s step-off, there would be no bashing. Therefore SLAM had planned a routine consisting predominantly of stepping. Precision, on the other hand, “bashed heavily and even used profanity among its insults,” commented Elliott. After the show, the Exeter group apologized saying that it didn’t intend to be disrespectful. While it is clear that the outcome of this Andover/Exeter fostered negative feelings, I understand and respect the choices of the administration to restrain students from certain actions. Some students found the redundant reminders to “cheer positively” annoying, but they were an important part of upholding our school’s choice to present ourselves as respectful guests at our rival’s facility. Ultimately, despite the objections of some students to the behavior of Exeter students, it is not our place to judge their actions or preventative actions of the Exeter administration. I believe that the tradition is still in great health and I was proud to be part of this respectable body of fans. Should there be problems in the future concerning respect between any parties, the two schools administrations and student bodies need to increase communication. The students in SLAM and Precision were able to work things out after the conflict by talking and even went on to plan a further step tournament for the upcoming spring term. Chase Potter also reported receiving apologetic Facebook messages from Exeter students. I was talking to an alumnus this past Sunday, and when I told him about Andover-Exeter the day before, a large smile lit up his face. I know with the continuation of this healthy rivalry in the future, we too will look back on this memory, like students from generations ago.