Each football Friday at LGHS features a display of white and black jerseys scattered across the quad. At LGHS, giving your football jersey to the girl you like on gameday is an unsaid rule. It’s also the high school boy equivalent of a dog peeing on a fire hydrant to mark its territory. Instead of an enthusiastic display of school spirit, the weekly jersey trade is an awkward, sexist, and outdated tradition.
LGHS’s bizarre jersey passing tradition holds many sexist and downright creepy implications. On each game day, football players typically ask a girl to flaunt the jersey he will not be wearing for the game at school that day and at the game. This tradition has the capacity to be an innocent and spirited way to support our team. However, it has transformed into a sexist and problematic practice. Instead of football players giving their jerseys to a friend, female or male, who wants to show their school spirit, players always give their jerseys to girls. This trade off almost always has a romantic implication. Any girl spotted wearing a jersey is sure to be cornered with questions like, “So whooooooose jersey is that?” and “Are you guys daaaaating?” for the rest of the day until we know if she’ll wear his jersey again. This conversation is especially awkward if jersey-giver and jersey-wearer have not discussed if they “like” each other or “like-like” each other, et cetera.
Additionally, jersey trading creates the exact kind of exclusive environment that LGHS claims to oppose. The one benefit that a jersey-wearer can anticipate is the inevitable Instagram post that night, either posing with her posse of jersey-wearers or with her arm wrapped around the jersey-giver. Thanks to the Instagram Explore page, dozens of underclassmen will stumble upon said photo and believe that wearing a guy’s jersey is the key to happiness and popularity. Freshmen should not be staying up at night worrying about whether they’ll ever be a jersey-wearer; neither should seniors. Because there are naturally fewer football players than potential jersey-wearers, jersey culture is inherently exclusive. Meanwhile, LGHS’s website boasts that it strives to “To promote student wellness, balance, and belonging.” Apparently, those values don’t have to apply when game day rolls around.
This tradition encourages cheerleader-jock stereotypes, where the guy runs across the field and makes the winning play while the girl stands on the sidelines and cheers him on. I don’t mean to imply that cheerleading, as a sport, is any less physically invigorating or rewarding than football. Instead, I’m referring to the sexist connotation that comes along with cheerleader-football player relationships. The football player gets to go out onto the field, be an active participant in the game, and take home the prize. Meanwhile, the cheerleader (in this case, the girl wearing the player’s jersey) waits on the sidelines, a passive participant in the game, and responds to how well her jersey owner plays. She doesn’t have a role in the game itself. The tradition of girls wearing boy’s jerseys neglects LGHS’s dozens of competent female athletes. Our girls’ teams are arguably better than our boys’ teams; just look at the field hockey team’s CCS record. So why, then, are there no guys dressed up before field hockey or volleyball games? Because it’s more socially acceptable for girls to be cheerleaders and boys to be players. The guys get “good luck” and “congratulations,” while the girls get more questions about whether they have a jersey to wear on gameday than whether they won their last game.