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Football athletic protocol met with mixed reviews

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Football athletic protocol met with mixed reviews

Reis Jensen, Sports Editor

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There is an absence this year at LPS athletic complexes. Not Doris Bair, Densmore, or any of the high school sites, but rather the Beechner and Seacrest multipurpose athletic fields.  After summer discussions between school athletic directors and District Athletic Director Kathy Wieskamp, it was decided that a new post-game protocol should be initiated for the 2018-19 school year. This protocol would alter the interaction between participating football, as well as soccer, players and their fans. That post-game interaction would simply be no more. No more running up to fans after major victories, and no more immediate support from them after a tough loss.  Instead, players would be expected to immediately head into their respective locker rooms after their team field meetings. As imagined, talk on the new protocol ensued, including initial outrage from players, fans and parents.

“I think that they should have never changed it,” DFA member Max Overton (12) said. “It was never a big ordeal.” Like Overton, many question why the rule was even created. For all they knew, athletic events at Seacrest and Beechner were safe and especially fun. Fans came in masses and enjoyed the event from pre-game all the way to post-game. Logistically however, it appeared that the lingering around after games was becoming a bit excessive.

“The majority of the reason this really even got brought up was about the 4:30 game,” Southeast Assistant Athletic Director Kara Graham said. “And people getting out faster after the game so that we can get the 8 p.m. game started quicker.” Prior to this rule, staff at games were having a hard time preparing the venue and clearing the stands for the following competition.

This still leaves an area for confusion with spectators. Many believe that if there aren’t back-to-back games in a night, then this protocol should not be in effect. The same idea holds true for out-of-town competitions. In Omaha there is no policy between fan and player interaction, yet the Southeast Football team and administration still abides by protocol, likely due to safety concerns. Although no incidents have occurred directly at LPS sporting events, athletic administration across the district believes that with everything going on right now in our country, it’s better to not have surprises.

“We don’t always make decisions or changes just because something bad has happened,” Graham said. “We’re trying to avoid something bad from happening, so we’re going to just jump ahead of it.” Graham also went on to talk about how change is a hard thing for many of us. Having to alter the way we do things can be upsetting, especially when you don’t see the “why” or the need to follow these new rules.

Instead of trying to fight against the protocol, students have responded well with new alternatives for showing support to their players. The most prominent one takes place in the Southeast parking lot. “We just drive back to Southeast and greet the guys on the bus,” Overton said. “So it’s always nice to see the bus roll up.” As the players exit the bus, a crowd of cheers and chants begin to congratulate the football boys after coming home from their game. Though, fans like Overton still can’t deny that they miss the old ways.

“[Players used to come] over for like a couple minutes, thank us for stopping by and coming out to see the game,” Overton said. “We’re still in the stands, [the players] are still on the field. It’s just how it is [now] you just are closer.” Through this lens it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal, but there is still one important viewpoint we’re forgetting.

One last perspective cannot be overlooked: the coaches perspective. After years of experience as former Head Girls’ Basketball Coach for LSE, Graham sees this as a positive for competing teams. “I want them to be celebrating with their team or talking with their team about what they can do better, at least for that first 20 to 30 minutes after the game,” Graham said. “And then you go home and you have those moments with your family, that’s really important too.”  Not many people could disagree with that, as well as the notion that the first group of people you should be celebrating with, from a player and coach’s perspective, is your own team.

The future of LPS’s new athletic rule is unknown, however it immediately has shown its positives and negatives in the first few months of the new school year. The thing to remember is there are no “bad guys” in this scenario. The school is always going to focus on the safety for its students first while the students find new alternatives to making the high school experience a fun one. Although it’s going to feel harsh for long, out of town road trips, it’s something we all will get over. After all, we can’t become too distracted and disheartened when the best part of the event is the game itself.

About the Writer
Reis Jensen, Sports Co-Editor

Reis Jensen is a junior at Lincoln Southeast High School. This is Reis's first year with the Clarion and is currently the Sports Co-Editor. He is passionate...

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Football athletic protocol met with mixed reviews