Recent events detract from high school football experience

Staff editorial

The only screaming that should happen at a high school football game is the shouts of jubilant students cheering on a game-winning touchdown, not the terrified shrieks of children as the crowd scatters from the sound of a gunshot. 

However, this is the chilling new reality. At the beginning of the fall sports season, two shootings at pre-season jamborees shocked the St. Louis area, both occurring on the same night at Parkway North and Soldan High School. At the Parkway North incident, a gun was fired in the crowd before a fight broke out, though no one was killed. Sadly, at Soldan, an eight-year-old child was shot and killed, while two teenagers and an adult were injured. 

These acts of violence prompted immediate action closer to home. Just a week later, when our Lions took on the Clayton Greyhounds, security measures were far tighter than usual. Fans were subjected to police pat downs, metal detector scans, and identification checks. Signs around the stadium read “NO WEAPONS ALLOWED,” a clear reference to the events of just days ago. 

The very idea that schools should have to remind fans of this policy is shameful, and speaks volumes to the environment that students now live in. There is no excuse for adults to bring weapons to a high school football game at all. Events such as the ones at Parkway North and Soldan ruin what high school football is supposed to be about. It creates a general sense of anxiety within the confines of the stadium, where students’ biggest worry should be the score of the game, or whether or not they have enough money for chicken wings. 

During the third quarter of the Clayton game, there was panic in the stands when students started screaming and running from a section of the bleachers. What turned out to be nothing more than a swarm of bees was interpreted by many as the reaction to a gun being pulled. Chaos broke out for a moment as the crowd fled from the non-existent shooter, and the focus of the fans shifted from the tension of the game to surviving the latest tragedy at a setting that should bear no casualties. 

Although the terror was illusory, the fact that the first thought was that our school could play host to yet another mass shooting is telling of the times.  It’s pathetic to have to remind adults that their guns don’t belong at a school event. It’s ridiculous that fans should be reminded of massacres when a raucous crowd shouts and screams at a game-tying touchdown or a ill-timed interception. 

In what was an interesting coincidence, U. City hosted Soldan on Oct. 5 for the Homecoming football game. Much of the attention was surely placed on a Lions victory, but somewhere in the back of everyone’s mind, the events that transpired at Soldan High School on Aug. 23 likely resided, a grim reminder of the violence that seems to occur anywhere and everywhere without discrimination. 

Parkway North and Soldan happened to be in the wake of the violence, but that doesn’t mean they will be the only ones. Gun violence is no longer a nuance; it is an everyday issue that could affect anybody in any place at any time. There shouldn’t be a need for signs to remind the public that weapons are prohibited; it should be common knowledge. Students already have enough to worry about, and staying alive at a football game should never be one of them.