Letters to Holly

Friday, February 12

Into the Fire

So it's the last home game for the basketball teams. It's senior night, and the teams are playing their archrivals. The students held a spirit week with daily dress themes. There were fresh rumors of a weekend snowstorm. There was a buzz before the games began.

All was well until the boys game. This school has a ribald student section. They have dances and coordinated cheers and a costume style (ties and headbands, for whatever reason). They jeer opposing players and cheerleaders. They have fun. They are loud. They can be obnoxious. Last night, they got really obnoxious.

Using logic I can't begin to fathom, one of our students had a photo an archrival player. It's was clipped from a newspaper, and it was of the kid during a game. I wasn't embarrassing. It was just a game photo. But this was brandished throughout the game, and it was meant to rile up the other team's fans. It did.

What was a boisterous game became dangerous quickly. Near halftime, one of their students crossed the aisle to yell at our student section. He was kept at bay by a cop, but our principal, standing not three feet from this, did nothing but watch. Later, the kid with the photo stupidly -- and The Rock means "stupidly" -- walked over to the guest student section and stood in their faces with the picture held aloft. It was yanked away by a guest student. He got mad and grabbed a hat off the head of a student fan. The two-man game of keep-away flowed onto the court during the game. Cops eventually noticed what was going on and tossed the students. Except the kid wearing the hat didn't leave. He hid behind standing students. Some of our kids on the balcony above him saw this and started yelling. The cops didn't notice, and the yelling got the attention of some parents sitting in the guest section. Those two groups began jawing.

Your Sister and I were sitting on the opposite side of the court, between the benches, and watching all this. She called the principal, still standing with the cops between the student sections, to warn him the upstairs section was getting ugly. He couldn't hear her on his cell phone amid the din of the game and the fans. I could tell she was about to bolt, and I tried to block that verbally. Stay here, I said. Let it go, I said. They can handle it. The unstated trump card was "and you're not taking our baby into a fistfight." But she was off, and I told her I was going with her.

At this point, the already tense game was threatening to become a cage match. The teams were five points apart with less than a minute to play, and the guest team was exploiting the lack of a shot clock to hold the ball. This angered the home fans, parents and kids alike. Our team had to play tight defense to get the ball in play, and tempers flared on the court. Fouls were called seemingly every two seconds. That stoked the fans. It was bedlam.

We hopped to the floor by going behind the guest bench (really a line of bleachers), and we jogged to the opposite side, right in front of our student section. She informed a cop what was going on. Seeing this, the parents in the guest section thought she was ratting them out and began yelling at the cop (and probably us). The students upstairs saw this and started getting in their last verbal shots on the adult fans. They responded, and the cop wisely darted up there to shut it down.

Our downstairs student section realized something was up and wanted to see. The first two rows bled out onto the court to catch a look. Your Sis and I were the only adults there to back them up (the principal was probably off still trying to hear her on his cell; she hung up minutes ago), and we kept them off the court. However, our kids higher up on the bleachers were closer to the argument upstairs, and now they wanted to help their buddies. Your Sister was debating what to do. I put my hand on her back and steered her to the other side of the court. Whatever might happen could do so without us involved. We ran back to our seats and again snuck past the guest bleachers. Those kids not playing watched us the whole time and thought we were ratting out their parents and friends. They gave us the stink-eye. I was watching them to make sure they minded their manners, but we were walking between them and other guest fans.

We made it to our seats and watched the game finally end. we lost. I don't care. The situation needed to be tamped down, and I blame the principal for not huddling with the coaches to admonish the fans. The crowed dispersed a little too slowly for my liking, and I got Your Sister out to her car quickly. I watched her leave the parking lot to ensure she didn't try to break up any fights that might happen. I didn't see any, and I drove home myself a few minutes later.

I hope there's some sort of announcement about student behavior only because it would acknowledge something needed to be done. Your Sister shouldn't have been the one to save the day. She later assured me she wouldn't get into harm's way, but I'm not convinced. I'm positive she would restrain herself somewhat to protect Roo, but there we were between two loud, angry, fired-up students sections. That was too close for me comfort. But she did feed me game food of pizza and Snickers, and I'm too appreciative to be stern.

She graded papers when we got home, and I thumbnailed my latest script and discovered I had a comic. I've got 20 pages and a real ending and some wiggle room for panel adjustment. I'm ready to draw out the panels.

Picture of the Day
It's too winter to do anything outside.

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