#pride

Art+by+Yasmeen+El-Jayyousi

Art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi

Brayden Parker

Civility too often swept away when you’re swept up in Providence Bowl hype

As this evening draws near, like many other high schoolers living in Columbia, my mind has been flooded this past week with the Providence Bowl. Practice has consumed my time, and memories have entertained my thoughts.
Preparing for this year’s installment of the rivalry and replaying the past meetings have been the focus of my week.

Art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi
Art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi
However, while reflecting during this week preceding one of the biggest events in mid-Missouri, I have arrived at a paradox: I both love and hate the Providence Bowl.
Since Nov. 2, 2012, tonight’s game against Hickman has devoured both the thoughts of me and my teammates. Although we take the season one game at a time, it would be foolish to say we haven’t been anticipating this night for a while. The situation also couldn’t have been scripted any better; a very good Rock Bridge squad traveling to the very place their season ended a year ago, to take on a very good Hickman team that would like nothing more than to win their third straight game against the crosstown rivals.
In terms of a football game I would rather have it no other way. There’s no denying that when the ball is kicked off a little past 7 p.m., two respectable football teams will give it all they have for 48 straight minutes. Both the Bruins and Kewpies, players and coaches alike, will compete with every ounce of physicality and effort in order to prove to themselves, their schools, their fans, that they are the best Columbia has to offer. In an environment that district and school officials expect to include nearly 10,000 people this game, along with the previous match-ups in the rivalry series, will continue to be a fantastic night to remember for both sides.
All these factors that hold potential to create memories, as did the three other games against Hickman that I have been fortunate enough to be around Bruin football for, is the reason I love the Providence Bowl. Regardless of the outcome (though admittedly winning makes the feeling better) the atmosphere, plays and people that are all a part of the actual game will be something to remember for a long time after.
Yet, while I immensely value the 48 minutes of the Providence Bowl that will transpire on LeMone Field this evening, I have a difficult time appreciating the week that has lead up to the finale.
Now as both a competitor, but also as a fan, I understand the emotions going into this past week. It’s a big deal, I get that. It’s Rock Bridge vs Hickman; it’s Bruins vs Kewpies; it’s Southside vs Northside.
It’s a show of pride.
It’s a turf war.
It’s triple-overtime games, and it’s missed field goals. It’s blowouts. It’s one point, final play spectacles. I get all that. I understand that’s what makes any rivalry. That’s what makes this rivalry so enjoyable to witness and be a part of.
Likewise, whether you have played or play for or have attended or attend either of the schools involved, the week leading into the Providence Bowl and the event itself should be exciting.
If you aren’t even the least bit intrigued by the rivalry that’s fine, but I’m willing to bet that due to the immense amounts of student involvement in the rivalry and the desire to not be left out, that in some aspect of the battle between Rock Bridge and Hickman you have some slight interest in how it plays out.
And that is fantastic.
Getting everyone involved is what can make this week so special. I really enjoy people getting involved and excited about sports, especially Bruin athletics. Dressing up, wearing green and gold, doing the roller coaster, screaming loud, chanting “B-R-U-I-N-S” all in support of your school is incredible. And it is incredible because all of this enthusiasm and fandom manifests from pride.
I don’t discount pride at all. In fact pride has the potential of being extremely healthy and beneficial. For me, south Columbia is where I live. Rock Bridge is where I go to school. The Bruins are who I play for, and I am tremendously proud to have the opportunity to represent my town, school and team. I think it’s safe to say the majority of students at Rock Bridge share the same pride. If not always then at least for this Providence Bowl week. And regardless of the amount of dedication you have, simultaneously married to pride is the responsibility you have to restrain it.
Common to every week before the Providence Bowl, as the desire to show off our pride is steepened by the thrill of rivalry, our Bruin blood becomes saturated in thick green and gold. Unfortunately, though, in recent years some of the methods with which we have exhibited our pride have been inappropriate and unnecessary. No one forgets the unwarranted behavior at last season’s district game which resulted in the destruction of Hickman property and the ugly reputation attached to the Rock Bridge student body.
And what about the creation of RBLife Week? The brainchild of some conceited student, RBLife Week is fed by other Rock Bridge students taking advantage of the unfortunate opportunity to tweet self-gratifying messages about the supposed socio-economic superiority that Rock Bridge holds over a sister school. While apparently comical in nature (I suppose that I just have a weak sense of humor), the tweets have at times become increasingly nastier as the week has continued. I understand ‘satirically portraying your high school’ but we as Rock Bridge students need to draw the line some time before undeserving Hickman students are compared to being homeless.
On top of these tweets, why expand this hashtag to HickmanLife? While I don’t in any way condone the stereotypical tweets that Rock Bridge students have created about themselves at least I can understand the purpose of attempting to boost your own morale. But to create harsher labels and place them on students of a school that honestly is no different than our own, is entirely uncalled for and inappropriate. If it is necessary for you to hide behind social media to tear down a group of people you don’t completely know, for the purpose of comedy and boosting yourself, you need to look down a little deeper.
The wickedness of the banter is incomprehensible. As I said before, I get pride. But I have trouble attributing these types of juvenile and tasteless behaviors to pride. Ultimately, they get talked about, then written negatively about, and soon enough Rock Bridge and all students attached, however deserving or not, are tagged with a worse stereotype than socio-economic supremacy; childish and conceited. Honestly, what at all is there to be proud of?
When it comes down to it, the football game tonight is the only part of this week that should matter at all. Regardless of what words have been exchanged and what boorish behaviors have been engaged in, the fact of the matter is that two extremely good football teams will show up and put out in order to take home this victory.
Obviously, when the clock hits zero the winner will take pride in both the score and the victory. On the other hand, because of what will hopefully be a well fought game where everything is left on the field and nothing is left up to interpretation, the team standing without the win can still take pride in its effort. And while no one can judge effort, I’d like to be able to take pride in factors that other people can, and proven do, judge: class.
Neither the effort of winners nor losers can be judged. Either it was there or it wasn’t. But the class that precedes both teams and their schools is open for interpretation. It would be wonderful to have a reputation that complements your school, as if a synonym for your name. Because when wins come, the pride is easily portrayed; however, when losses come, it becomes increasingly difficult to discover pride.
In it’s entirety, I love the Providence Bowl. It’s something I have had the good fortune to be a part of and I seriously take the opportunity in getting to represent Rock Bridge in this Columbia tradition. Ultimately, though, while the big plays are memorable, the final scores fade and all that remains are the people.
Teammates, coaches and opponents: they all lie here to be remembered. Here also the fans remain, for better or for worse, as a component of this rivalry. And I hope that tonight, as in every night you cheer for the Bruins, you arrive early, stay late, be loud, act silly, have some fun. Most importantly, do so with pride for your team, your school, and the Southside. But do so with a pride that lasts and transcends wins or losses, a pride that is respectful and filled with class. A pride that at the end of the day is something you want to remember.
Wins and losses come constantly, yet in relation to life, shortly after the final seconds run off the clock the winner is forgotten and ultimately who cares who was victorious on any given night. As proven last year, each season is different and no Friday night is the same as another. When we reflect, as I have this week, and relive and look back on the Providence Bowls that occurred during our high school careers, all that should matter is to be able to say you were a Bruin. Now that’s pride.