Lucas Jones’ dunk wasn’t the only eye-opening thing from East’s Jan. 4 victory against Leavenworth. The most notable thing I took away from that game didn’t happen on the court; it happened in the stands. Our student section had taken on an unusual pattern: it was split cleanly in half. On one side of the stairs stood young men and women decked in blazers and dress shirts or sun dresses. And on the other side, the fans just hadn’t dressed the theme.I’m sure many of the fans dressed in full SEC Gameday attire were confused by the lack of participation. They may have assumed that everyone loved the classic theme as much as they did. But that’s not the case. More and more students are beginning to dislike SEC Gameday. As someone who’s never liked the preppy theme, I’m just glad they’re finally coming around.My problem with SEC Gameday doesn’t have anything to do with the clothes themselves. Vineyard Vines and Southern Tide are fine brands. I just have a problem with what the theme represents.
When students don their Vineyard Vines dress shirts and Ralph Lauren polos, they aren’t doing so just to look nice; they’re looking to assert their superiority over the fans of the opposing teams. I get that. Competition among fan bases is a natural part of sports. Even I want to prove that Lancers are better than Raiders or Hawklets. However, I think we’re going about it the wrong way.
Here at 7500 Mission Road, certain students have developed the belief that with the right clothes, they can be classy.They think that by wearing blazers and sun dresses, they can prove that they’re classier than the opposing team’s fans. But these students are missing the point of class. Class isn’t something you can purchase at Halls. More than anything, class comes from within, and that’s something that our students seem to have forgotten.
The other team’s fans may not be able to afford such nice clothes, but is their behavior any less classy than those of us who can? Because for most of my career at East, it seems that that has not been the case. They’re not the ones who are notorious for drinking before games. They’re not the ones who have to be babysat by their administrators every game. They’re not the ones clinging to wealth as an indication of superiority. We are.
Ultimately, flaunting class is counterintuitive. Wearing classy clothes at games doesn’t indicate maturity or class. To many, it shows an immature desire to prove our superiority and a superficial definition of class. There are better ways to prove our superiority and class than dressing up in expensive clothes.
I’m not the only student who realizes this. I’m not the only one who wishes our student section would abandon this embarrassing theme once and for all. That much became evident in the Leavenworth game. And therein lies the biggest problem with this theme: opposing fans aren’t the only ones who hate SEC Gameday. There are many within our own section who dislike it as well.
Some may not be able to afford the top-dollar clothes that the theme requires. Others may dislike the implied arrogance that seems to always accompany the theme. Regardless of the reason, many East fans don’t like our school’s preppy theme. But the seniors who have control of the student section seem to be oblivious to this.
The opposition to the theme represents a growing disconnect between the leaders of the student section and their section, and that’s a big problem. People don’t come out and say it like I do, but there are many who disagree with the direction of the student section. Without a unified student section, we can’t give our Lancers the support they deserve.
So here’s my advice to those who lead our student section: pay attention to more than just the front row. Stop picking themes that embarrass our section and divide our fans. Learn to pick themes and chants that the majority of the section can agree with, and not just your friends.
I believe a lot of our student section leaders can do better. We don’t have to stop trying to out-class the opposition. We just have to learn to do it differently. And if we do, I believe that we can make a better student section for the remainder of this year and years to come.
Just please start by getting rid of SEC Gameday.