Reveling In Rivalry

Boyleing Points
Typography

Do high school kids have rivalries anymore?  I don’t know any high school kids so I can’t ask. They must still have them out in the Midwest, where things are more likely to be frozen in time. Friday Night Lights, Hoosiers, that kind of stuff.  And it seems college rivalries still exist but high school craziness seems like a relic of yesteryear. Maybe because so many schools have closed. There were so many kids in the old days, neighborhoods would be sprinkled with kids from different schools, which lent itself to keeping rivalries alive throughout the year. You didn’t have to be at a game to know you hated kids who went to that school.

Friday night basketball games were big in Brooklyn and there’d often be the threat of a big brawl before, during, and after the game as kids from rival schools were ready to take school pride out on the jokers from that other place.

Some of the rivalries were revved up by school teachers and administrators who conducted pep rallies the day of the big game. The chants were innocent:  Two bits! Four bits! Six bits! A Dollar!  All for Nazareth stand up and holler.

Everybody joined in though no one had a clue what a bit was.

Another favorite was when a pep rally leader would yell, “Silent cheer!”  Everyone in the bleachers would wave their arms wildly and make faces like they were screaming but not a sound was heard.  And then the guy would shout, “Louder!”

That was the innocent side.

But in those days, slurs were part of everyday lingo. Nazareth High School guys tried to sissify Xaverian High School by calling it Gayverian or XaFairy-ian. I’m pretty sure there was little song or chant that incorporated those unfortunate terms.  And some called Bishop Ford High School - Pill Hill – because it had a druggie rep.  (And you Xaverian and Ford guys reading this, I’m hoping your feelings aren’t hurt.  If they are? Tough.)

This stuff wasn’t limited to boys.  I went to watch a girls’ cheerleading competition one time and the girl rivalries were fierce.  What was I doing at a cheerleading competition?  You have to ask?

Some of these grudges born out of rivalries continue for years after graduation.  Somehow Bishop McDonnell, a girls’ high school that closed in 1973, came up in conversation.  The mere mention of Bishop triggered a chant from a St. Brendan’s High School grad.  But first, a little history.  It was the early 1970s and there apparently was some discussion about the Diocese having to close either one of those two schools.

The rumors inspired a little ditty from the Brendan’s girls.

GROOVY GROOVY GROOVY

TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH

THEY MIGHT BE CLOSING BISHOPS

BUT THEY CAN'T CLOSE US

NO NO NO

I relayed this chant to a Bishops alum who admitted some didn’t take this lightly.

“Twenty two years after Bishop’s closed, when I had my third child, my friend, Eileen, called from California.  She was gushing with excitement that Stephen and I had a baby.”

Eileen: “What’s his name?”

Me: “Brendan.”

Eileen: “No, really; what’s his name?”

Me:  “Brendan.”

Eileen: “How could you do that? We hated those f*$#ing girls!”

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