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Take your spirit stick and…

I do not have any school spirit. Our school colors do not bring tears to my eyes, nor do I feel any affinity to our mascot, the mighty Viking. It’s nothing personal. I don’t hate Portland State. The truth be told, I never have had school spirit, no matter where I was.

In junior high, we were initiated into the importance of pep rallies and school spirit and supporting the team. There were days we were supposed to wear the school colors and hang fliers of support on the football players’ lockers.

I never remembered to wear blue and yellow. Several of my teachers were coaches and castigated those of us who “failed” to show school spirit. I am sorry, just because one of my school colors was yellow, does not mean I am going to ruin my wardrobe with a couple of yellow shirts. Not that I was what you would call a “good dresser” when I was a student at Ponderosa Junior High School.

I thought it was unfair for our teachers/coaches to single us out for not conforming. I wasn’t even being an activist when I neglected to have some “pride” in my school, I just forgot. I hated football, and the guys who did play football were all asshole jocks who made fun of me in class, most likely because my intellect outstripped theirs and I could not dress myself, so why should I support them?It got worse in high school. For starters, our mascot at Klamath Union High School was the “mighty” pelican. I can think of nothing less threatening than a pelican. Stinky, yes. Scary, no.

In high school, less of my teachers were coaches, so they did not ride us when were not wearing red and white. Pep rallies were mandatory (until the Junior and Senior years when I figured out how to get out of them).

I do not understand how anyone came out one of these Hitler Youth rallies with spirit of any kind. They nearly broke me. Screaming mindlessly as our consistently losing football team ran into the gym nauseated me, rather than make me feel pride. The pep rallies were not helping these guys. They sucked so consistently and so badly, we really need not have bothered with any kind of rally by the middle of the season.

Our cheerleaders were no help. They were the antithesis of the cheerleader stereotype. There were two or three cheerleaders who had an iota of ability, and the rest had outgrown their skirts and didn’t help our image, if you know what I mean. At the time I cared that the cheerleaders were fat, but now I couldn’t care less. I think high schools should have as many people who don’t represent mainstream ideals in visible places (such as student government and, yes, cheerleading).

If I could pick out one thing that really horrified me at high school pep rallies, it would be the Spirit Stick. Now, I am no scholar of Freudian thinking, but I think that it would be worth the while of some Freudian scholars to investigate the phenomenon of the Spirit Stick.

The Spirit Stick at KUHS was huge. It was more of a log than a stick. It was painted with red and white stripes and was housed in a cylinder made of PVC pipe. During the pep rallies, the cheerleaders would pull the Spirit Stick out of the pipe, and the more of the stick they pulled out, the louder you were supposed to cheer. If that’s not phallic, I don’t know what is.

In college, the whole school spirit thing is different. For one thing, it’s not entirely mandatory. There are no forced rallies or screaming at the Spirit Stick. You can go to the football games or not, and no one will pick on you if you don’t.

I’ll probably never buy a PSU sweatshirt or even a sticker for my car, should I ever learn to drive. PSU is like my job. I go here, I get my education and, eventually, I graduate. I do not even know if our football team is doing well. I just want to finish school and move on with my life.