It doesn’t really matter how it started. We hear stories on both sides about what escalated the tension, and while the truth is probably out there, it matters less than the reality on the ground, or in the stands. Today’s rivalry between LCC and TP is passionate and pervasive, and something to be celebrated, managed, and used as an opportunity to teach sportsmanship, school pride, and perspective.
To make this time in the rivalry a teachable moment, we (at both LCC and Torrey Pines) do well to focus on what the rivalry is, where we have had problems with the behavior the rivalry has inspired, and what we want the rivalry to look like moving forward.
Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon were rivals before there was a La Costa Canyon High School. Veterans of the SDUHSD can tell you that for more than three decades TP and a school to the north have challenged each other as “cross district” rivals. With the usual incidents of juvenile jostling, San Dieguito High and Torrey Pines High played each other yearly and saw a gradual growth of the traditions that define a rivalry. When LCC opened, the LCC/TP rivalry sprang, fully formed, to life.
Looking at the state of the LCC/TP rivalry right now, we see that for some student fans, behavior has turned from competitive to unhealthy. In years past, students in both LCC and TP cheering sections have exhibited behavior that was vulgar, insulting, and included personal verbal attacks on opposing players and coaches. While behavior on the field of play has been sportsmanlike, fan behavior has lacked the level of civility both sides expect.
So, what do we want, and how do we get there? Athletics in general and healthy rivalries in particular offer opportunities to build school spirit, teach respect for our opponents, and promote sportsmanlike behavior on the field and in the stands.
To build school spirit we look to our ASB, our teams, and specific student groups (e.g. LCC’s “Noise Boyz”) to provide examples of positive behavior, positive spirit wear (selling “LCC PR1DE” shirts rather than anti-TP shirts), and positive school attitude.
To teach respect for our athletic opponents we would do well to expand on the collaboration between our two schools, begun in the Sportsmanship Summit this fall. We might expand the shared activities (working with both schools’ ASB and other student groups) and engage in experiences together to help combat the demonizing of students from the other school. While not universally successful this fall, the shared TP/LCC T-shirt, designed by student artists from both schools is a visible example of how students might work together on a common task and come away from that experience with a better understanding of the other school.
Sportsmanship, both on the field (or court, or pool, or mat) as well as in the stands, needs to be a focus for our school communities. While we run a risk of violating first amendment rights if we begin to limit what students can wear to games (with the exception of shirts that violate SDUHSD dress code), we do our students and our schools a service when we focus on promoting and expecting positive behavior from our students at games. We can do this with explicit and well publicized behavior expectations, including specific consequences, proactive work with student groups before athletic events, and involving student (and faculty) voices in the greater discussion of how to make our very real LCC/TP rivalry a healthy one.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s playoff lacrosse game. With two talented teams and two passionate fan bases, I want everyone who comes to the contest to cheer hard and celebrate their own team’s successes. I also want to be able to bring my five year old son, Henry, and not have him embarrassed by anything he sees. I love good rivalries, and see LCC/TP as one that echoes Army/Navy in spirit. As a proud Maverick, I’ll root for the home team, but I’ll shake hands with my counterparts in cardinal at the end of the night.