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The Whiteboard Jungle: Students’ pride in their school keeps Hoover brawl front and center

Through the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and 9/11, one thing was for certain: that in the fall each year Glendale and Hoover high schools would meet for the final football game of the season.

That tradition ended last week.

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Hours before game time, “out of an abundance of caution” Glendale Unified officials cancelled it “due to increased rumors of possible disruptions . . . that put student, employee and spectator safety at risk,” according to a prepared statement.

Fallout from the Oct. 3 fight at Hoover ultimately led to Glendale Unified’s decision.

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The 88-straight game streak was broken as were the hearts of students and alumni and anyone else who has a link to the city’s storied history. Even the homecoming dances were postponed.

It wasn’t just a football game that never happened. For the Hoover senior football players, it meant a chance at history by beating Glendale all four years of their high-school career, a feat never before accomplished.

Much preparation goes into this one major local sporting event each year. Its purpose, no matter the football team’s season record, is to instill school spirit, with an early-morning ceremonial poster drop from three floors up and a schoolwide assembly of skits performed by students from each grade level.

All of this work is done by a small group of dedicated students, all leading up to the game — the game that was not to be.

If there was a serious threat of violence, then cancelling the game was the right move.

However, if the cancellation was based on rumors, something district officials admonished everyone not to fall prey to after the fight at Hoover, then questions should be asked.

After all, when a rumor on social media spread following the fight caused a huge number of absences, school was not cancelled “out of an abundance of caution,” so why would the game not happen?

If you are trying to make things go back to normal, the last thing you want to do is to end a positive, long-standing tradition between the two oldest high schools in the city. Not having the football game is abnormal.

Then, guess what happened? Just when the TV news minivans stopped parking in front of Hoover, they returned on Monday.

Students organized a walkout to protest the district’s cancellation of the game. Well over 100 students walked 2 miles to district headquarters wanting their voices to be heard.

“What really happened on Oct. 3? Why was the game canceled?” were questions never fully addressed.

Three days later, Glendale Unified officials tried to answer those questions in their first press conference on the matter four weeks after the initial incident.

The district is moving forward to facilitate communication with all members of the school community. Let’s hope such efforts succeed.

Give credit to the district for doing this.

However, even more credit goes to the persistence of students who felt that questions remained unanswered and issues unresolved.

Would there have been a press conference if there was no walkout?

The motto at Hoover is “be responsible, respectful and engaged.” The students who organized the peaceful demonstration embodied that standard, and adults should embrace these young people for speaking their minds and reminding all that this is their school.

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