I have always had very divided feelings about Homecoming, and in particular the positioning of the Homecoming game within the larger cultural event of Homecoming Weekend as a whole.
I attended a high school with a rampant jock culture, and so the football game was always central to the entire experience.
The homecoming dance was important, and people would make a big deal about getting a date.
But the football game always occupied the foremost position within people’s minds for the weekend.
My experiences watching high school football games have been, to say the least, terrible due to crowd behaviors.
I went to all of two games during high school and the experiences of both games supported my conclusion that people only attended to partake in a celebration of blind patriotism and tribal attitudes surrounding high school.
People attending the games were largely there to cheer on what I perceive as modern blood sport. From friends who did attend games, I heard about how injuries to the opposing team were often publicly celebrated by the home team.
I experienced firsthand how the other team was violently insulted for making correct strategic decisions that avoided physical confrontation.
Adding to the atmosphere of chaos, injuries to the opposing team were celebrated, but the opposing team was villainized if one of our players was injured.
I fully admit I have never gone to one of IWU’s football games, but I can also say certain elements of this culture are preserved in IWU as well – or at least in parts of the IWU community.
This jock culture characterizes part of my conundrum with sports as a whole, and football in particular.
Although it may not seem like it, I do enjoy watching professional football.
I have a fascination with the strategy that goes into the decisions that are made, from front-office decisions regarding the draft for players, to the actual game-play decisions of what plays to call.
I have the utmost appreciation of the effort the players put into training and preparing for games.
Despite this, I find myself largely disillusioned with the culture surrounding sports, precisely because of the bullish, combative, unthinking fandom I witnessed in high school.
The blatant criticism of opposing fans and the larger ingroup/outgroup mentality football encourages is something I find difficult to deal with.
I know that Homecoming is much more than just a football game, but the echoes of my high school’s fanaticism remain, in varying levels of preservation.
There are more events, such as departmental activities, and the focus is taken off of the game and these activities serve more as a positive celebration of the shared experiences of studying at IWU.
The added variety of events are positive when compared to my experiences around Homecoming in high school.
I feel the more detached Homecoming is from the actual Homecoming football game, the more positive the experience is creating an argument for separation from the game.
There will still be sports games.
For individuals who would rather focus on other aspects of Homecoming, it would even further lessen the emphasis placed on this pigheaded event, and would remove some pressure exerted on homecoming.
The strict setting of high school does not fully prepare students for the independence they will indulge in at college.
If high schools were to become more lenient with policies and allow more responsibility for their students, they wouldn’t feel so bewildered at college.