Sports at Stuyvesant: A Sticky Situation

Despite Stuyvesant’s characterization as a school surrounded with different creative outlets, sports and athletics culture is extremely lacking among the student body.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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By Ashley La

Three seconds left. You receive the pass. Two seconds. You set your feet, ball ready to release. One second. You jump and shoot. As the buzzer goes off, you follow through, land, and watch the ball fall through the rim. You have imagined this moment in your head countless times, and even though your team is excitedly celebrating, something feels out of place. At your team’s away championship game, not one fellow Stuyvesant student is present to cheer you on. It’s likely that this instant classic of a game, one of the most important and thrilling moments of your high school basketball career, will go unrecognized, forgotten amid Stuyvesant’s academia after a few moments of ecstasy. Once again, you are reminded of the dismal fact: sports culture at Stuyvesant is extremely lacking.

If student athletes have ever seen “Glory Road,” “Friday Night Lights,” or even “High School Musical,” it’s likely that their visions of high school athletic success include raging crowds dressed in school spiritwear, chants and cheers from the bleachers, and glorified walks through the hallways the day after a win. Yet at Stuyvesant, it is clear that to the student body, sports are an afterthought. Most students don’t know that many of the teams even exist, much less keep up with them. Stuyvesant Athletics Director and former coach Peter Bologna attributes this problem to a few reasons. “A lot of our sports events are very unattended. The announcements that go out, a lot of people here don’t listen to them, or they’re doing something, and there’s just voices in the background. And then, not all sports are put in [the announcements] to be recognized after big wins or big accomplishments,” Bologna said.

Despite lacking a sports community, the Stuyvesant athletics teams are far from substandard. Stuyvesant PSAL teams have undoubtedly seen success compared to other teams that compete in the city. For example, both of our boys’ and girls’ track teams consistently win the Borough Championships and make it all the way to States. Stuyvesant has won several New York City championships as well: during the 2021-2022 year, boys’ fencing, boys’ gymnastics, boys’ table tennis, and girls’ table tennis all won PSAL championships in their respective playoffs. Many of the other sports teams who unfortunately do not make it all the way in the playoffs are still impressive in their respective Manhattan or Bronx/Manhattan divisions, frequently placing high enough in the division table to ensure playoff qualification.

The fact that many Stuyvesant students aren’t invested in their peers’ athletics leads many student athletes to feel unappreciated. Sophomore Adrian Veto, a player on the junior varsity baseball team, commented on the apparent lack of support: “​​Nobody at Stuy cares about sports. People are just not interested. There are schools with student bodies a third of the size of ours showing up to games more than we do, and that’s partially because people are so busy, but it’s also discouraging.” With Stuyvesant’s academic rigor, long commute times, and other extracurricular activities, it’s no wonder some students are disinterested in the athletic aspect of school. However, student athletes likewise have to deal with these problems, along with added difficulties of daily practices and traveling to games. Coach Vincent Miller, who coaches the boys’ soccer, girls’ varsity basketball, and girls’ softball teams, explained, “For the sports I coach, I see people put a lot of time and effort into it. They get home late and then have to do homework late and leave class early, and that’s a big deal. The students who don’t play sports don’t understand the lengths and the extent that a lot of the players go through.”

There are several plausible solutions to this problem that would help Stuyvesant refocus and bring more attention to its highly accomplished sports community. For one, a uniform mascot for every team could further integrate athletics at Stuy. This idea has been a discussion for years, and the deterrent preventing a successive reform is the likely mascot candidate of the “Pegleg.” The Pegleg is certainly not as intimidating as kosher mascots of predatory animals, and the name’s attribution to Peter Stuyvesant, a figure who need not be honored through Stuyvesant’s athletic achievements, has sparked controversy. A consistent name could be something other than an artificial leg, and the mascot could be decided by student-athletes or voted on by the student body as a whole.

Another possible option is that Stuyvesant athletes could improve publicity of their teams through social media. Junior Alvin Chen, when asked how he keeps up with sports at Stuyvesant, explained, “I do see the Instagram accounts whenever they post their wins. That’s my main source of information from PSAL sports.” In the current school year, PSAL teams have promoted their presence on social media, making Instagram accounts and creating posts on team updates and match scores. This initiative has allowed many students to be more informed about these teams compared to previous years, as they can keep up with teams’ records of the season and support their student-athlete peers after a win. However, these Instagram sports accounts could promote their teams further. Possible ideas include livestreams for each match and more features on star athletes.

Additionally, students and the administration can take action to bring more awareness to Stuy’s sports teams and their successes to increase live attendance. Some students simply don’t know when and where games are happening. “I don’t really hear about sports at Stuy. I hear a lot more about academics and stuff,” junior Alif Rahman said. Games could be advertised by adding athletic updates to the Student Union’s weekly emails and posting an athletic bulletin board in a prominent place in the building. Stuyvesant could also amp up live crowd support by creating spirit themes for games.

The truth is, it is up to the student body to elevate sports culture at Stuyvesant. There is only so much action that the people involved with athletics can take to spread the word and encourage students to be involved. As students, we must realize how integral athletics are to our school’s culture. Sports are truly one of the most rewarding aspects of being a high school student, whether you are a student athlete, an avid fan, or an occasional spectator. Enthusiasm for sports at any high school is also important, not only so that athletes feel appreciated, but also because athletics unite the school as a whole. School spirit represents pride and connection between the student body and the institution that brings them together. Lack of spirit for sports teams at Stuyvesant exemplifies a general detachment of students from the school. The best way to revamp this deficiency is to engage more students in supporting their school’s athletics. Being aware of how our sports teams are performing, keeping up with star players, and supporting our athletes during thrilling competitions are some of the small steps we can take in reviving the major obstacle surrounding Stuyvesant sports culture.