Why We Play

It’s rare that sports make it onto the editorial page of this paper. But Andover’s recent decision not to play Exeter in A-level basketball is not just about sports. It is about what we value as a school. And we believe this decision is the wrong one, made for the wrong reasons. These two schools have competed against one another in basketball for 88 years and 135 games. This is a rivalry that has defined friendly, competitive sportsmanship and built character in student athletes. Andover and Exeter are two schools that are considered bastions of education, turning out well-educated young people, not training athletes. Exeter’s team has eight Postgraduate players; we have four. It is no wonder that it is difficult for us to compete with this team. But these numbers reflect our institutional priorities – an emphasis on academics, extracurriculars and the arts as well as athletics. And according to the website New England Recruiting Report, Exeter’s lineup gave the team “its best [season] in years.” On the surface, we understand that losing to Exeter by a wide margin may seem to defeat the purpose of the game. However, we should take this opportunity to evaluate our basketball program – the coaching and the structure of training from Junior Varsity to Varsity. Rather than backing out of this tradition and lowering the bar for our athletes, we should rise to the occasion, stand up to the older, more-experienced athletes, and play the game. These basketball games are, at the very least, thrilling; students will cheer no matter what, and if we do win – or even make a good show – it will be that much more memorable. SLAM’s performances alone at halftime are worth showing up for. They remind PA what spirit looks and sounds like. Here’s the short of it: we play Exeter in every other sport, in the spirit of a friendly rivalry. There is no good reason to back down from basketball. It would be better to lose to Exeter a game that means something than to win against a less worthy opponent. The unsigned editorial above represents of the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXI.