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Let's cheer for some school spirit during football playoffs
By Bob Frisk | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/31/2008 12:03 AM

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I would assume school spirit will pick up everywhere this weekend.

That's usually what happens when the football playoffs kick off, but there's still no guarantee.

That's why assume is the operative word.

This has been a strange season. As I wandered the sidelines each week, I never knew what type of crowd was going to show up.

Some stadiums rock every week.

Some stadiums rock occasionally.

Some stadiums never rock.

I can't fault the play on the field. The high-scoring games may be short on defense, but certainly not on entertainment. They're fun to watch because no lead is safe. Teams can strike without taking much time off the clock.

Most of the games in the regular season certainly weren't boring, but you could never tell by the way the fans reacted at some high school stadiums. Or didn't react.

There was no spirit.

Frankly, the fans at those sites ­- and there have been some obvious exceptions this fall - didn't seem to care if their school won or lost. It was more of a social experience in the stands.

I'm not saying you have to just stare at the game without socializing with your friends or hitting the refreshment stand. However, you should make a strong effort to be a part of the total experience.

School spirit is a feeling inside you that makes you very upset when the other team has a big play or scores.

My first real example of school spirit came when I was at South Junior High School in Arlington Heights in the late 1940s.

We had an annual play day each spring, a series of track and field events with our "bitter rivals" from the other side of town, North School.

I was entered in the sprints and broad jump (it wasn't called the long jump then), and I remember watching our teachers and how they reacted, if at all, to our competition.

They were the "security force" that day to make sure everybody acted properly, but we wanted them to show some interest in what we were doing. Kids like to know the adults care.

We had one very stern, prim and proper teacher who just sat in her lawn chair during the events, reading a book and rarely looking up at the kids.

We got down to our final relay, South vs. North, and I was running the anchor leg.

As I came around the final turn, I headed toward the area where this teacher from our junior high was sitting.

I didn't expect her to even look up from her book. I was about 25 yards from her when it happened.

Suddenly, she was on her feet and jumping up and down. She had flipped over the lawn chair and tossed aside her book and was screaming, "Run, Frisk, run! Go, South, go!"

That was so stunning I almost forgot what I was doing, but my relay teammates had given me a decent lead.

I could hear her yelling behind me as I headed for the finish line. This rather proper lady was displaying a side I had never seen in the classroom.

Frankly, I don't think she ever looked better. That was school spirit.

Fortunately, we did win. South did beat North!

If you go to a school with spirit, you can find it every day, and not just in athletics.

You see it in the classroom, in the halls, in all the extracurricular activities. You can see it in the teachers, in the way they conduct classes, the dedication to their work.

You can see the spirit of those teachers and the administration who go far beyond what is expected to shape the lives of the children.

You can see the spirit with the enthusiasm of the students, who work and play and grow and love their school with a passion.

School spirit lets you feel, to sense, to internalize the truth that this is more than just the place where you spend a certain number of hours each day.

Spirit lets you understand that this is truly your high school, your students, your teachers. It belongs to you and is a part of you as much as you are a part of it.

You should appreciate and cheer for your high school because it is a true component of your life.

That team out there is your team.

That's the perfect definition of school spirit.