Spotlight Fight

In most movies about high school, one of the main characters almost always plays either football or basketball and the side characters are in band or choir. 

Some sports might get more attention than others from their schools, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as important. Other activities like band, choir and theater are just as competitive as sports so they should get the same attention from their schools.

Historically, many schools give the most attention to sports like football. This could be because maybe that sport achieves the most or it could be because administrators don’t take the time to recognize other sports and activities like soccer, swimming, track, theater, band or even tennis.

On the OSAA website, for every list of sports, football is the first one listed. This doesn’t necessarily mean they want all the focus on football, but if that’s the first thing someone sees every time they open the site, it might be the big focus of someone just browsing the site. 

In the fall, football seems to have all the attention throughout the whole season. For example, Madras High boys soccer achieved league championships but the only talk was upset about having a homecoming soccer game instead of a football game. During winter sports, typically, basketball gets more light shone on it compared to wrestling, unless a wrestler takes a big spot in a tournament. Spring sports hardly ever get attention unless they get far in the competition like in track.

Vanessa Young is a current senior at Madras High School who participates in choir, band and theater. Young and other performers often achieve many great things with the group that go unnoticed. Young and another student, Olivia Johnson, have recently been in the acting competition International Thespian Regionals and qualified for state in the musical duo category. Young explains their duo scored so high they automatically go to nationals in Indiana. 

“I don’t think that the arts at Madras High get nearly as much attention as they should,” Young said. “There have been so many talented students who just don’t get the recognition I believe that they deserve. Lots of students are uneducated about what the music department does so many achievements go unnoticed. The sheer amount of musical talent that comes from the school is astounding considering our small size.” 

Young believes that the administrators aren’t completely at fault and they might not know how to recognize the talent, or know how extremely competitive the field is and how much time and work it takes — like any other activity. She is also interested to see if there will be any change. 

It could be true that the administration in school doesn’t know or understand how the arts “win” like most sports. When a football team plays a game, they play in a giant stadium for an entire town with lights, noise and support in the stands. Students who don’t play attend to watch because that’s all they hear about in school on the day of the game. When surveyed about their knowledge of marching band competitions an overwhelming majority of students agreed that they have no idea how, where or when bands or choir groups compete with other groups. 

Dan Barendse, the athletic director at Madras High, has worked to make sure athletics and activities are recognized and events run smoothly. He’s working to be better about recognizing everyone at the school.

Barendse explains that school officials rely on the student body to get out information about sports and activities and he feels it’s the best place for it to come from. He also mentions since his time at Madras High there have been more and more clubs added to their roster. For example, they offer GSA, girls’ horse club, Native American student union, environmental club and more. 

“Whatever people can come up with, we add,” Barendse said. He is mostly focused on facility and equity to be able to grow the sport to even have something to offer to students like facilities and equipment. 

South Hills High School is a high school out of Covina, California. Their music program has a website about their band program and how competition works. They say they compete like a tournament with judges on their looks and performance. 

Madras High School Music has a Facebook page for the entire department including band, choir and theater but nothing has been posted since July 2022. The school’s website features a tab for athletics but nothing for activities or clubs besides a small post at the very bottom of the page for recognition for FFA and an announcement for a band concert. 

If more students knew about how they worked and what happens at the events, these groups might get the attention they deserve from their schools and have the support they need to go even further. 

It’s not necessarily the fault of the school or administration for not recognizing other activities as much as they should. There are many different events going on all at once, it’s easy to understand how they can easily forget one group or another. The division of attention can still be resolved and improved.