Sports favoritism at South


Charlotte Parent '21, Copy Editor

It’s Friday night and varsity football is playing another game under the lights– the stands are packed. Next door, the girl’s synchronized swimming team is rehearsing their routine to perform to an audience made solely of friends and family.

The most played sport at South is the football program, with 103 player registered in the Fall 2018-19 program, according to the South Athletics Website, and the least played sports are the Girls’ varsity Synchronized Swimming program and Gymnastics program, with a total of nine and six students on the teams respectively. Students appear to enjoy football more, and would therefore ‘favorite’ it over other sports. Interim Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Chris Booth said that this is not the case.

“The athletic department there and myself don’t have any favoritism towards any of the teams here,” Booth said. “I want any kid that plays a sport here to be successful. But to me, the fact is that some sports teams carry a lot more team members than others do, and so those teams (usually have better attendance) than others.”

Booth said that he thinks that while sport favoritism isn’t present at South, it’s perceived that way by students and athletes alike.

I think maybe it’s perceived that way because if you compare how many kids show up to a home football game versus a home volleyball game, there’s going to be a contrast,” Booth said. “At the end of the day, kids love going to football games and basketball games. I think maybe I can do a better job in trying to get the word out to other sports that don’t have great attendance.”

Head football and coach of varsity football Tim Brandon said he accounts football’s great attendance and turnout to the Grosse Pointe Park residents, not solely to its popularity as a sport in general.

“I just think (the home football games) are a community atmosphere,” Brandon said. “It’s a Friday night in Grosse Pointe and going to the game is a traditional, family thing that parents can go to and even take their kids. I do think that football is more popular (here) just because it’s one of America’s well-known games.”

Each team at South should have equitable access to facilities whenever they can, according to Booth. He said he has a large spreadsheet detailing what times different teams have the turf or the gym in the fall, winter and spring sport seasons.

“The main reason I created it is to, one, accommodate teams as much and as fairly as possible,” Booth said. “Two, I made it to know where everyone’s at if I need to go see a coach or a player. This is a big school. Is this system perfect? Nope. People will complain, but I’m doing the best job I can on it.”

The recognition popular sports recieve can overshadow lesser-known, more obscure sports, synchronized swimming team member Colleen Morisette ’21 said.

“I’ve been doing synchronized swimming since the summer going into fifth grade at Grosse Pointe Farms Park,” Morisette said. “I found out about it through our family friends the McGrindles. It’s really fun– but I was talking to someone at South and mentioned (I do synchronized swimming) and they didn’t even know that South had a team. That didn’t make me feel great.”

Morisette said that all the hours of effort she’s put into the team through practices and the money she’s given to the programs and stuff aren’t widely recognized by students at South.

“I get sad because of I enjoy it so much yet not a lot people know about it,” Morisette said. “They’re missing out on what synchro has to offer– all the fun, the team bonding we do, all of it.”

The synchronized swimming team at South had a total of nine player on their Winter 2017-18 roster, according to the South Athletics page. It had one game, which pales in comparison to the number of practices, let alone games that football has. Booth said that the Athletic department is pushing for more equal turf practices for teams that require it.

“I ask each coach to let me know their preferred practice time and then try to accomodate them the best that I can,” Booth said. “I work in terms of equity and work to create a system and schedule for everyday of the year. The other thing (that I work for with practices) is to be able to accurately suit the needs of the coaches and the players as much as possible.”

The reactions Morisette said she gets when she says she does synchro is usually shocked. She said they reply with things like ‘you’re on the synchro team?’, or ‘synchronized swimming is a sport?’.

“I’m usually just like ‘yeah…it is,’” Morisette said. “‘And I put a lot of effort into it like you do for your sport, so.’ I try to not focus on other sports and what attention they’re getting from what they’re doing. I’m more worried about my team and what I can do to make it better.”

Booth said he knows that inequalities in popularity are present in sports, but the athletic department is consistently doing their best to fix it.

“Are we 100% (at equal popularity in sports) yet? No,” Booth said. “We’re trying to get there, though. That’s the point of why I made the schedule.You’re never perfect, but you can try to get better