Patriot Perspective: Change in football helmet color elicits juvenile uproar


Is the sky falling? Is this school burning? You may think so, but no, someone said the color of the football helmets might change.

During a football meeting on Feb. 7, a proposal for new black helmets to replace the old gold helmets was unveiled. The team was excited to start a fresh new season, hopefully even on a new turf field, and part of that excitement led to the possibility of a new look for the team with a new black helmet.

Many other sports teams, such as lacrosse and baseball, have gotten new uniforms, and it only seemed fitting that the football team should be allowed a change as well. At this time, the coaches and players were unaware of the 50-year tradition of the football team having gold helmets, which was initiated by former coach Gerry Gray at the onset of the football program at JC.

When the proposal was made public, family members of Gray and many other alumni quickly made the tradition known, through Facebook, emails, and various other outlets, and said that they thought that the gold helmet should stay.

For something as seemingly trivial as the color of the football helmets, the outcry and debate that erupted was enormous. Many alumni responded passionately in support of keeping the gold helmets, but this was a double-edged sword.

On one hand, it is positive to see so many alumni still active in our community and passionate about our school. Many alumni made inspiring comments about the importance of tradition and the legacy of JC. On the other hand, some alumni unfortunately took it too far, even to the point of calling high school students “children” and “stupid” publically on Facebook, saying that, “one day you will understand tradition and memories. You just don’t get it now.”

The biggest attacks that seemed to be raised were that high school students were too stupid and young to understand tradition and that they did not respect and appreciate tradition.

First, while JC students have not yet reached adulthood, they have passed the time of being called children, and are old enough and mature enough that they deserve to have their opinions respected. As they struggle to savor their precious high school memories while the pressures of college and work loom over them, they are more than aware of the importance of memories. As students currently in high school, they are the young adults, the ones in the moment making their own memories.

No one can dispute that the main purpose of JC should be providing the best experience and education for the current students that will lead future generations. This is not to say our whole JC community is not important, but the focus needs to be what is best for everyone, especially the students now. Too often the angry responses were from people who were focused on their own personal thoughts instead of on the welfare of the students and the football program. The discussion should have been about what is best for the JC community.

Secondly, assuming students want to disrespect tradition and do not appreciate it is just as wrong. Students are currently part of the 50th Anniversary celebration, a huge year for JC. Students have never been more aware of the many traditions present here. To say students don’t understand at all is too harsh. For example, one of the defining moments of junior year is receiving your class ring, and every student respects and appreciates this tradition.

Students have no choice to be ignorant of traditions if they aren’t informed about them. The administration and even some of the teachers should be responsible for educating them and sharing the history of the school.

Overall, the negative outcry from the alumni took it too far and did not embody what JC is all about. The disapproval from both sides of the argument was, in our opinion, overblown.

Although both sides had valid points, the argument and controversy over such a small matter makes JC look like a zoo from the outside.  If we cannot settle on something the color of our football helmet, what else can we not settle? The fact that a majority of this discussion was plastered all over Facebook only worsens the matter. At the end of the day, the helmet is staying gold how it should, but the situation could have been handled better.

The art of balancing tradition and change is never an easy concept to master. On one hand, tradition is important. It binds people together and connects generations with memories. It keeps the old young, and gives the young wisdom. However, change is also necessary to keep any organization going. Without change, progress is hardly made.

Because these two concepts can rarely coincide smoothly, tension often results.  And the JC football program sure did see a lot of that this month. The one tradition that should never change is the tradition of JC having caring, compassionate, and thoughtful alumni, students, teachers, and administrators.