Beyond The Score

Central Vermont Sports Blog

Where Have All the Fans Gone?

with 2 comments

Saturday afternoon I went to a Montpelier High varsity girls basketball game against a strong southern team, Mill River, in the Lenny Drew Gym. The MHS girls were disappointed because they lost but they showed heart and grit. If they could only shoot. They’ll get better as the season continues and it’s a treat to watch them play. Great bunch of kids!

I was disappointed in the atmosphere and lack of fans. The student section had 7 people in the stands. Behind the players bench there were two families – a total of 6 people. 14 people in 4 sections of bleachers that could easily seat 200! The “parents” section may have had 35 people in it. The biggest group of fans could be found in the visitors section. 40-50 people must have driven up from Mill River to watch their girls play an impressive game.

Why? Where have the fans gone?

Things sure have changed over the years. It wasn’t too long ago the stands would have been full of screaming fans and players would have been charged with excitement.

What’s happened? Why aren’t students showing up to support teams? Where are the crowds?

I have a couple of thoughts about it but I’m an old dog so like the kids I can easily be ignored. Anyway, here are my thoughts. The idea of a school community is being redefined by students, teachers and adminstrators.

Coaches generally are not teachers. They don’t have direct daily contact with students that teaching-coaches had in the past. Today’s coaches, show up, coach and are gone. Job done!

Inschool promotion of activies doesn’t happen at the level of the past. When was the last all school rally introducing the teams and players and pumping kids about upcoming games?

There’s a Boster Club. What are they doing to help get fans in the gym and develop a sense of community?

It is rare to see more than a couple of teachers at games or other school events like dances, concerts, art shows. Like coaches many teachers come to school, do their jobs and go home. In the past teachers and coaches of fall and spring sports attended winter games and supported “their” students.

These are just a few of my thoughts on why the fans are gone. What are your thoughts?


Written by Roger

December 18, 2010 at 10:27 PM

2 Responses

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    Author : Matt McLane
    I was coaching my own son’s K-2 b’ball team Saturday and then sledding with both of my boys after that . Priorities……….
    Matt McLane, proud MHS teacher.

    Author : Cathy Butterfield
    Dear Roger,
    Times are changing. Teachers are being asked to do much more than they once were. They are also held accountable for student behavior if they are in a supervisory role. There are pending lawsuits holding schools and teachers responsible that are front page news. In light of these changes, I am no longer willing to supervise dances or other outside activities. I am honest with students about these facts, but I am not willing to put my career on the line for behavior that is outside of my control.

    Also, as a teacher of writing and critical thinking I often spend far more than 7 1/2 hours–or the contracted teacher workday, in school. Last week I graded over 800 pages of written responses (short answer and full essays)for the midterm exam. Of the two major essays, one had a required outline on which I gave extensive feedback. That outline took me 30 minutes per student (I have 68 in that course), so you can do the math. I did that work everyday over winter break. I was proud of the feedback and it yielded good results, but it didn’t leave me a lot of discretionary time. More importantly, the time and commitment to feedback, is commonplace for me.

    I am a dedicated professional, but I have a private life that sustains me. I already devote more hours to this community than I am paid for and while those empty seats in the gym say something important, I am not sure they support your conclusions about the attitudes of teachers over time. Roger, I am not blind or deaf. The media and the general public (and now you)has been vilifying teachers for decades now, and there is a cost well beyond empty seats at a sporting event. The way Americans feel about education–which really means how they feel about paying for education, is taking a toll. Morale is down. Salaries are not keeping pace and are actually dropping. There are new and enormous demands for the development of rigorous, relevant, and authentic curriculum, instructional methods and assessment. The demands have changed. The language to describe the demands and measure their growth has changed. The community support, which mirrors the nation, has changed too; it has
    dropped. These realities are problematic.

    Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect teachers to absorb, reflect, revise, and deliver on changing expectations and still have time, energy, or inclination to attend outside events. An old teaching friend of mine said, Cathy, if you are working harder than your students, you are doing something wrong. I thought it was a smart comment, but I have never been on the winning side of that formula and suspect I never will. If I do manage to “work smarter”, I hope I have the smarts to invest any additional time I have in the people who truly support me–my family.

    I like and respect you Roger, but I am offended by your casual commentary that appears to judge and measure teacher dedication based on the number of spectators in a gym. Really?


    January 24, 2011 at 6:31 PM

  2. Cathy, Thank you for taking the time to respond to my blog. I know the hardships teachers face each day and how time, a teachers greatest asset, is eaten up with activities not related to direct contact with students. You’ve shared valuable insights into your teaching life and presented your point of view with passion. Insight and passion, awesome traits for anyone to possess. I hope it rubs off on your students.

    I did not intend to vilify teachers or create an impression that I don’t appreciate all you do. I reread my post and can see how you might have taken offense as I lumped teachers, parents, coaches and students into one general category of the disinterested. Not my intent! I’m concerned as to why these groups no longer find the schools to be the center of community life. Where do they go? What do they do? Private lives . . .

    Times have changed as you said and there is always something to complain about. I’m not directly connected anymore other than a few events I attend. After 36 years teaching and supporting kids, I’ve seen the changes. I went to school during the 50’s and sat in my little row with my mouth shut and my eyes on every move the teacher made, if not I paid. College in the 60’s and my first job as a teacher, coach, athletic director, all for $4,000 with all the hours that would choke a horse. The 60’s brought us the open classroom – a rebellion to the Ozzie and Harriet years. The education pendulum was swinging wildly into an experimental phase (open schools, etc.). 70’s, 80’s 90’s slowly aimed us toward skills continuums and individualized educational plans. I called these years especially the 90’s the times of false accountability and universal sameness. Paper work became more important than progress. Opportunity became more important than excellence. Now the focus seems to be more toward a business model for educating our young which in my opinion breeds a lack of community.

    During all these changes the schools were the hub of the community where teachers and families shared and supported each other. The point I was trying to make but obviously failed was that schools are no longer the hub of the community thus community support for all educational activities is not what it could be. Note that I did not say should be. I’m accepting the change just not convinced it’s for the good.

    I was taking to Matt (see above comment) and he pointed out that school assemblies have a different focus lately. He described the last one supporting the music program and said it was fantastic.

    No matter where education turns it’s all about a kid and a teacher that cares. That’s where good things happen. That’s how we make a difference. We can’t stop showing up to support the efforts of a student no matter the arena. An empty basketball court is a symptom of not supporting the efforts of our students. It’s not about sports. It’s about a loss of support in what they do. It’s not about private lives, busy times, work load or other commitments. It’s like Matt said, It’s about priorities. Show up, get involved and support our youth.

    My feeble attempt in trying to find out “where have all the fans gone” was to see if people find it important to celebrate student efforts in whatever arena they perform. Not just teachers but parents, coaches and other students. We need more of a community. We need locate the changing hub. Maybe it’s online?


    January 26, 2011 at 10:28 AM

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