When I first read through my news feed, I honestly said to myself, “this is probably something I’m not going to have an opinion on.” HA. All it took was a quick observation in my status and suddenly everyone’s comments had me thinking. Add in the mundane tasks of boxing 3T winter clothes and sorting socks and suddenly this girl wants to share her thoughts.
I know, you’re shocked.
For those of you out of the Ridgemont loop, or the 10TV viewing area, several of Ridgemont’s basketball players were suspended (in-school) for recording a version of the Harlem Shake in the locker room. I watched their video and other than some tasteless gyrating, it was harmless. Based on the interview, I’d judge the boys to be trying an honest effort at fun.
One of the most interesting comments came from my friend AB, who told us the roots of the dance, which are quite appalling. JJ had to explain to me the entire craze and I still don’t find any of the videos all that funny, so armed with such information I can firmly say I will never participate in such an endeavor. I’ll play my lack of participation of social trends on my high moral standards (as opposed the original reason, which is that I live in a cave made of toddlers).
So, if the principal had punished the team based on these ideals, I’d probably buy him lunch because I love to fly a good flag around for knowing the whole story and being sensitive to how our media treats people not like the mainstream ideal (white/male/adult/typically developing). Goooooo inclusion! (See? That was a cheer. Maybe I’ll get out my old Gopher skirt for it).
However, that’s not the reason the punishment came down. According to the news clip
, it was for profanity, distribution of unauthorized materials and unauthorized use of the locker room. Ultimately, the principal said he thought the video made the school look bad.
Which is what I found fascinating. Here in Troy, the principal initiated a school-wide Shakedown (my term, not his) where each 1st period class came up with a video for a contest. Roots of the video aside, I applaud THS for its attempt to mix up the monotony of the doldrums of winter. At its intent, and behind each of the videos created, it was simply a chance to do something out of the norm and have a little fun.
So, what’s the difference between the videos at Troy and Ridgemont? Probably not the gyrating. Or even the shirtlessness (JJ’s video featured a bare-chested figure with a helmet, of which he had to clarify was not himself). No, if you ask me – which, you did, if you’re still reading – I think the main difference was that the Troy principal led the idea while the Ridgemont principal was surprised by it.
My understanding* is that the Ridgemont boys gained permission from their coach, so the “unauthorized” piece seems unfair. And in the coach’s defense, I would’ve made a similar decision – it seems like a harmless activity. The boys could want to go steal road signs with their jersey numbers, to which I would advise, is not a great idea. But no, they wanted to dance.
Perhaps the coach should have mentioned it to the principal in passing. The pastor at the church where I served once asked me politely to please never let me be surprised. He stood supportive of most any of my hairbrained ideas, so long as he wasn’t put in the position of being caught off guard. It was probably a wise philosophy. But then again, if I were the coach, I probably wouldn’t have thought a dance video was worth mentioning.
I think the administration puts a lot of faith into their staff and this is an area where I think they could trust his judgement. Perhaps this is my tipping point into a bit of disdain for the school’s decision – that it seems to be a power ploy, an attempt to make a statement that you may not do something without permission. I don’t think the school lost face via the video, but perhaps the principal felt like he did, as if it gave a perception that he wasn’t commander-in-chief and therefore such action needed stopped.
Which is a horrible reason to punish people. Especially kids. (“You inadvertently made me look bad and now you’ll pay” is not a life lesson to be pushed).
I’m all for “the rules apply to everybody” and it drives me crazy when people feel the exception. But I don’t think a dance video insinuates an attempt to circumvent authority. I think it was only perceived by the authority it inadvertently circumvented. People in positions of power and management tend to see it where the rest of the world do not. (I say this with the authority of a person who has felt this way before.)
Instead of responding with iron fists, perhaps the principal could laugh – or even dance – it off. Because seriously, it’s silly. All those videos are silly. (Except the original one, which is just wrong.) Maybe the guy could applaud efforts at creativity and acknowledge that kids need an outlet to express their inclination to join in the fun that the rest of the world seems to be having. He could even mention to the kids that, in the future, it would be wise to run these things past management (a lesson any worker will tell you is worthwhile).
What we have now is a fantastic opportunity for leadership to set an example of humility and say that perhaps we over-reacted. It happens. Everyone does it. And the community has the grand chance to extend a gracious hand of forgiveness, as opposed to vengeful fingerpointing with I-told-you-so’s (which is why we get so few examples of humility nowadays). We can learn the hard lesson of making wrongs right by all parties involved.
*admittedly, via FB chatter, so apologies to Nick for any inaccuracies. Feel free to correct me.