LACES Untied

LACES Untied

LACES Untied

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Silent Sidelines

Sports culture at LACES
Sidelines+consisting+mostly+of+parents+at+a+regular+season+LACES+Basketball+game.+
Ravi Gadasally
Sidelines consisting mostly of parents at a regular season LACES Basketball game.

On February 17, the LACES Boys basketball team faced off against Chatsworth High School in the CIF Open Division semifinals. Senior Ryan Conner accomplished an amazing feat during this game; hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game in the final seconds and another one in the last 3.8 seconds of the game that sent LACES to the finals. This play was written about in the L.A. Times, and won the national high school play of the week in Sports Illustrated on February 20th. Yet, this play was witnessed by more than twice as many parents as LACES students, reflecting a trend of low student attendance at sporting events throughout the season. 

This is a trend that has been noticeable all season for not just the boys basketball team, but all sports teams, with parents outnumbering students in almost every game. This clear imbalance in attendance at games shows a lack of sports culture and student attendance at sporting events.

Mr. Marlon Shows, LACES Athletic Director, believes that there are a variety of different factors that affect attendance at sporting events. 

“I think interest in sports is different [between students],” said Shows. “I think the other issue is that, because we’re not a local school, there’s not a lot of bussing options available to students if they stay for a game because the late bus is going to leave.”

Another issue Shows highlighted is the rigor of the coursework LACES students take. 

“I think the other challenge is because we have students that are taking seven classes, a lot of our games conflict with the academic rigor that students are facing,” said Shows.

Although it may seem that LACES’ low attendance is out of the ordinary, Shows believes that in comparison to other schools, LACES’ attendance for athletics is better than other places. 

“We only have about 900 high school students … so I think that percentage-wise, we’re actually probably doing better [in] attendance than other schools, it just doesn’t seem that way,” said Shows.

Mr. Oliver Rivas, assistant principal, believes that advertising will help increase student attendance at games. 

“What works best most of the time is advertising. If we have somebody who is hyping up a particular game, to the point where you hear about it often, you will get attendance regardless of how the game is played, whether they win or lose. This is the reason that sports commentators, especially play-by-play announcers do so well, because they make things exciting,” said Rivas.

Rivas also mentions how there are a variety of resources available to students that inform them about games, which can help increase student attendance at games. 

“We have five or six venues for spreading information about things like sports games,” said Rivas. “We have the Saturday announcement, morning announcements, pep rallies at lunch, Schoology messages, the LACES website, and homeroom announcements done by teachers or students. We use these venues when we want to get information out to families, students, and staff because the more available resources students have access to, the stronger the likelihood the message will be received.”

While some of these methods have helped get the message out about, others have gone unnoticed or ignored by students.

“I feel like while some of [the administrators’] methods such as the homeroom announcements and Schoology messages are made, a lot of time they go over the students’ heads,” said sophomore baseball player Benjamin Findler. “Most of us don’t listen to the homeroom announcements and we really need to scroll through Mr. Shows’ messages, which can be a pain.”

Findler believes that sports teams winning more games can correlate to more attendance from students.

“For now, we need to start winning more games,” said Findler. “We need to build athletic programs that people want to see. If we keep losing to teams that are not at our level, no student wants to show up to games.”

In addition, some students have been advocating for more time for practice and school support for their sports teams.

“If the school could focus on our athletic department, such as creating a possible practice session during seventh period, that would lead to better teams and more excitement for sports,” said Findler.

The challenges surrounding low student attendance at sports games are deeply intertwined with the resources available to sports teams within LACES. Senior Garret Goldstein, a volleyball and water polo player, sheds light on the disparities in support for different sports. 

“I’ve been shown over the years that the school doesn’t really care about some of the sports compared to others,” said Goldstein. “For example, I’ve seen boys soccer and boys basketball get a lot of funding for different equipment and such. Whereas compared to water polo, we can’t even get a new score system where we don’t have to shove a button as hard as we can to make it start the clock.” 

Students also find that a lack of a second gym along with other sports facilities is detrimental to sports teams and athletes. 

“For boys volleyball, it’s a lot harder to practice when the boys or girls basketball season runs long because different teams can’t use the gym at the same time,” said senior volleyball and basketball player Kai Lavin. “In my 10th grade year, boys basketball went really far [in playoffs] so we ended up having two or three days to practice before our first game.” 

The lack of dedicated spaces for different sports teams not only affects their ability to train effectively but also creates hurdles that deter students from attending games.

“Our school does not have adequate facilities for sports, which greatly impacts student attendance,” said Lavin. “If we had good sports facilities, sports teams could compete at higher levels and students would be more excited to go to games.” 

Although attendance at sports games has been low throughout the year, there was a clear exception with the 2024 CIF LA City Section Open Division Championship game. Unlike the other sports games all year, there was a large fan presence with students outnumbering staff and parents. 

“We saw a lot of student attendance and school spirit at the championship game, which was surprising and nice to see,” said junior Tanishtha Kawankar, a member of the leadership spirit committee. “We [the spirit committee] work to increase publicity for sports by posting on Instagram, hosting lunch events like gradest of them all and pep rallies, and fundraising to pay for equipment and tournaments.”

Students found the championship game exhilarating and brought energy that hadn’t been seen all year. 

“I honestly wasn’t planning on going, but since it was on a weekend, I decided to go,” said sophomore basketball and volleyball player Shane Ferguson. “And I’m glad I did. It was such an intense game and despite losing, I really enjoyed the energy from our student section.”

  In addition, for many students, it was one of their first times going to a LACES sports game.

“I never thought I’d find myself cheering at a LACES sports game, but the championship game was electric,” said freshman Eli Stephens. “It’s definitely made me want to come out and support our teams more often, but it’s hard since most games are during school hours.”

To address these challenges and move forward, collaborative efforts from both students and staff are essential. It’s imperative for the school administration to prioritize equitable distribution of resources, ensuring that all sports teams receive the support they need to thrive. 

“Right now, all we can do for the future is leverage the various platforms, such as social media and Schoology messages more effectively to promote games and encourage greater attendance,” said Rivas. 

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About the Contributor
Ravi Gadasally
Ravi Gadasally, Editor-in-Chief
Ravi Gadasally has been a dedicated member of the LACES Journalism staff for over three years, having written over twenty articles which have been published and previously serving as News page editor. As editor-in-chief this year, Gadasally looks forward to publishing high quality content for the LACES community. On a side note, he believes "Revenge of the Sith" is the best "Star Wars" movie.
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