SHS athletes put on a pedestal


The 2019 Spirit Boys cheering on the Comets at a home football game. Courtesy of Doug Wolfe

Ryan Funderburg, Editor in Chief

An earlier version of this article said that Music in Motion won Dazzle Awards. The article was updated  on Nov. 20 to reflect that the awards were won by Drama Club. 

Solon High School (SHS) is very similar to “Romeo and Juliet” with the Capulets and the Montagues. There are two groups that coincide: Athletes and Non-Athletes. While students are not fighting in the hallways over this, there seems to be an imperceptible social dilemma and disconnect within the student body.

Athletics at SHS are taken very seriously- and for good reason. Student-athletes around the school are widely recognized by the community, classmates and teachers for their success and achievements. But is there an underlying belief among students that student-athletes are put on a pedestal and treated better than non-athlete students? 

Though administration attempts to foster an inclusive environment to all students, they can’t control the stereotypes within the student body.

Freshman Eric Boykin knew of the stereotypes relating to student-athletes before even walking through the doors of SHS on his first day of school.

“People say being an athlete and being popular go together,” Boykin said. “That if you classify as an athlete there is automatically a positive title put on your name, but if you are on an academic team people look at you in a negative way, they know you are smart and just see you as a nerd.”

Academic clubs, along with musical and art programs, often find themselves in the shadows of sports teams. Senior Nigel Gore, who is a member of Music in Motion, a member of Student Council and the secretary for the club Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) does not think this is fair. 

“I feel like it is easier for athletes at school,” Gore said. “Athletes get way more props for their accomplishments than non-athletic kids.”

SHS non-athletic teams, like Science Olympiad and Music in Motion have had a great deal of success, but no one really knows that.

Since 2006, the SHS Science Olympiad team has won first or second place 11 times in the Ohio State Tournament. Additionally, in the four years of the Dazzle Awards the SHS Drama Club has won The Connor Family Best Musical twice and Best Scenic Design three times. 

Though the academic teams and music programs do just as well, if not better, than sports teams, most people will only remember the recent boys basketball state championship run or the football team making it to the playoffs.

As an athlete at SHS, I think there is also a clear pecking order within sports. Programs like Golf, Boys Cross Country, Soccer and Girls Basketball all find themselves at the lower end despite having more success than the teams that get more attention. These sports have smaller crowds and little to no student support for games/meets. As a soccer player there are significantly less fans at our home games compared to football games, and while we have a small group of passionate students, our student section does not compare to the ones at the football games. We have won back to back District Championships while the football team went a pitiful 2-4 this year. Maybe people just like popular sports like football and boys basketball even if it isn’t the Solon team winning.

The football team is by far the crown jewel of Solon athletics. Thousands of fans come to watch the Comets play Friday nights at Stewart Field. The student section is packed with spirited students, who stand, cheer and watch intensely at least until halftime. During halftime, students pay little to no attention to the band. Insead, they sit down and socialize with one another, and even go to the concession stand. But when the game starts back up again, they are back on their feet cheering loudly.

Senior Megan Parsons has seen this first hand as she has been a part of the Marching Band since freshman year.

“It definitely makes me mad when students pay little attention to us,” Parsons said. “We get supported by parents and administrators, but students don’t recognize us as equal to sports teams.”

Maybe being an athlete naturally comes with a spotlight, if we cannot get rid of the light the least we can do as a community is bring other classmates out of the shadows. If you are an athlete you can be the one to make a change. Next time you get the chance, go buy a ticket to Music and Motion or go watch and listen to the Marching Band during halftime. You will gain respect for what they do. You will see the passion is identical to what athletes put into their sports. If you hear about an SHS academic team having success, congratulate them. They may be surprised you know, but really appreciative that you care.

Being an athlete does not make you better than any of your classmates. Athlete or Non-Athlete. Show Choir or Marching Band. Academic Challenge or Speech and Debate. No matter what you do, you are representing Solon High School and what it means to be a Comet.