Photograph by Paolo Harris-Paz
Berkeley High School’s (BHS) undeniable sense of community can be seen throughout the school year, whether it’s during unity week, at assemblies, within the diverse collection of clubs, or at dance performances. So why is there such a low turn out to most BHS sporting events?
Berkeley High’s athletic director Britta Fjelstrom said, “Our biggest attendance can be found at football and basketball.” Fjelstrom dedicates this to football and basketball’s popularity among viewers of professional sports. “Some sports are more high profile … [football and basketball] are popular in American culture,” said Fjelstrom.
Freshman Pavel Leite attended many football home games this season. “I go to football games and basketball games … It’s fun because a lot of people go and it’s fast paced. Water polo is also fun because there’s a lot going on,” said Leite.
Quincy Grove, a member of the junior varsity football team, said it’s the culture of sports themselves that accounts for larger turnout of friends and peers at his games. “When the football team gets excited so do the people that come. And I think that’s why people like it because when we get hyped the people that come get hyped. That’s just how football is,” said Grove. Fjelstrom also thinks culture plays a role, and said that “we get the most fans at games we know will be competitive, and with teams we know will be competitive.”
Students’ lack of interest is not necessarily what stops them from going to games. Leite said, “I also have a lot to do after school and the location and timing of some of the games doesn’t really work.” Fjelstrom agrees that location plays a role in student attendance.
The athletic department is working with teams and students to make games more accessible and fun to attend. The department has discussed “having halftime shows” at games. Ultimately, spirit at sports games is important because “students supporting other students leads to a better sense of community in a place where many want to feel that they are a part of something bigger, something that instills a sense of pride and school spirit,” said Fjelstrom.