How We Play the Game

The boys hockey game against Nobles on Saturday might have been a fantastic display of school pride. Students burst to their feet with exuberance at each of the three Big Blue goals. In the stands sat students, faculty members and their families, parents, alumni and residents of the local area. This event could have been a chance to show those people from off the hill the quality of our community and the dignity and class of those in it. But as the game progressed, the enthusiasm took a negative turn. A large section of PA students sang and chanted about the Nobles loss, and some students berated members of the opposing team, who looked back through the glass with disbelief and contempt. It truly appeared as though the cause to celebrate was that Nobles had lost, not that Andover had won. The game would have stood out for the hockey team’s impressive performance, but rather became a display of disrespect and mob tactics, which ultimately overshadowed the hockey team’s performance, projected a negative and inaccurate image of our school, and runs contrary to our school’s core values. We should have let the game speak for itself. The hockey team’s quality of play was resoundingly superior to that of Nobles. Assuming they are, as it appeared, not to blame for the fight that broke out late in the third period, they deserve praise for their performance on the ice. Instead, the loudest student voices took them for granted. Nobles did not deserve to be treated so rudely. The circumstances at the game and the relationship between the two schools makes the way they were treated all the worse. Nobles had very few supporters in the stands on Saturday, and hardly any rivalry exists between this school and that one. It might have been appropriate to poke some fun at Exeter, but such behavior directed toward a more anonymous opponent is simple glorification of another’s misfortune. Athletics events are our largest points of contact with the community that surrounds us. Hockey is most prominent of all sports, and the experiences that outsiders have at games defines their perception of our school. To have Andover students participate in such boisterous displays of superiority propagates an image of elitism that we should least want to project outside the community. It is important we work to dispel the stereotypical prep school image, not reinforce it. Finally, last Saturday’s behavior spits on Andover’s core values of over 200 years. Our school has strived to educate students as ethical people with the skills and disposition to be non sibi. Berating opponents at sports games is a complete transgression against the beliefs and values we hold dear.