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The Letterman Controversy: A Rebuttal

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“You have a letter? For what? Band?” The blatant scorn of athletes regarding the coveted letterman is all too common. I’ve never lettered myself, but I can understand the pull of the jacket. Students who wear them are automatically placed a rung higher in the school spirit hierarchy.

A letterman traditionally signifies excellence. It stands for hard work, talent under pressure, and dedication to our school. Are these not all qualities of an Academic League team member, of a drama student, of a choir singer, of a band kid? The Marching Sundevils sweat out on the stadium turf during summer band camp, some of them lugging  30 pound instruments. Science Olympiad applies intricate details of science to complicated labs far beyond what we learn in class. Academic League drills endlessly to remember everything from state capitals to formulas. Theatre kids rehearse every day after school to put on shows for our own entertainment. Are these not worthy of recognition? Are these not incredible examples of school spirit? Are these hours not enough to earn a fabric “MC?”

Above all else, a letterman is a symbol of school pride. Arts and academic programs put in time, endure pressure, and pour their hearts into a passion, same as athletes do. Just because the activities they are passionate about do not fall in line with what athletes have deemed important, they should not be dismissed as insignificant or less deserving. Some people are excellent at calculating how a basketball will bounce off a backboard, and some are excellent at calculating air resistance against a homemade helicopter propeller. So the latter of these is somehow inferior? The belief that athletes and athletes alone work hard enough to wear a piece of wool and leather is incredibly unfair to the hardworking students involved in other things. Of course jocks should be recognized for their blood, sweat, and tears. But they forget that the MC insignia belongs to all of us.

Written by Annie Price

Annie is a senior and a co-editor-in-chief for the MC Sun. Her hobbies include dodging questions about her future, driving on an empty tank of gas, and forcing people to look at pictures of her dogs.


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  1. My daughter has her letter from 2 years in Drama. I always assumed they offer letters outside of sports. Maybe Mrs Jones was just a better leader than some other “leaders” at MC. .. Band doesn’t letter? Odd.

    • Hi, band does letter, as well as drama, choir, orchestra, and other arts programs. This article was published in response to a sports column in our print issue that argued that only athletes deserved letters.

  2. If you work hard enough and are committed to a extracurricular activity and if offers a letter I believe you deserve it because these people including me are in sports,band,drama and other things that are practicing majoriy of the time longer and harder.Are you also saying those people don’t deserve to were this letter does it mean they don’t exhibit school spirit and deserve a certificate.No they don’t. At football and basketball games you have the pep band playing for you then every month drama department has an improvement show and also puts on plays and musicals and many other groups do wonderful things also sports are glorified even when they lose badly and don’t show support for the band when we are the best band on so cal wrap your head around that.

    • My personal belief is that anyone who participates extensively in extracurriculars– whether it be sports, arts, or academic programs– deserves to letter. This article is my opinion, as opposed to the opinion printed in the MC Sun magazine. However, the sports column is one of our writer’s personal opinions and she is entitled to that by freedom of speech.

  3. Thank you, Annie, for issuing this rebuttal, though I wish it was published in the magazine itself next to the controversial opinion. The thought that athletes and athletes alone could earn lettermans is an outdated, old-school ideology of a bygone era, endorsing the idea that jocks were popular cool people and smart students and/or those who pursued the fine arts were lonely nerds. Thankfully, we live in a time in which that attitude is not nearly as common. People now understand that it is unfair to only award athletes for their effort. A distinguishing feature of Mt. Carmel are all the different opportunities one can pursue, putting forth *the same traits* honored by an athletic letter: Perseverance. Dedication. Hard work. Time. There is *obviously* more than one way to fulfill these four traits, whether Nicole chooses to accept it or not, and as a result, people can find their niche doing something they love and reaping the rewards of school pride that they can wear, celebrating the effort that they put into it; this aligns with the MC Sun’s philosophy of respecting, and writing for, all students. And I hope that Nicole and anybody on her side realized this when everybody stood up to defend that philosophy by displaying their letters and lettermans at yesterday’s fantastic and well-applauded arts Winter assembly featuring the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz A, Choir, and Color Guard (which, by the way, only happened as a result of hard work).

    Merry Christmas and kind regards,

    Owen R. Cruise, class of 2017
    Principal string bassist of the Mt. Carmel Symphony Orchestra for three years in a row and *PROUD* owner of a letterman jacket with letter awarded for two years of leadership and dedication to the orchestra.

  4. I am the adviser for this publication.
    I’ve considered ignoring this topic and just hoping the emotions will fizzle out over break and we can all just get back to being productive and maybe even getting along. But I thought a piece explaining our perspective might help to (hopefully) calm things down.
    In a nutshell, The SUN staff made a mistake in not having another article to balance out an opinion. That is all.
    This story has caused such unforeseen dividedness I felt I had to say something. As the advisor, I’m there to check on stories and give direction. However, this is a high school newsmagazine and the students have their first amendment rights to write what they choose as long as it’s not libel. They even have the rights to override their advisor, principal, superintendent, state and Supreme Court, and high school publications have gone as far as the Supreme Court, just to let you know.
    When Nicole wrote this piece I saw this as nothing other than an opinion article. Which is exactly what it is, that’s all. You see, I grew up in England and we don’t get letters or letterman jackets, we just play our sports. Someone wins, someone loses, or if you’re playing cricket for six days, you can have a draw (tie). So for me, a letter doesn’t signify much. Not that I’m completely out of touch with the matter, my daughter received a letter her freshman year at San Dieguito Academy, but we saw no reason to buy her a jacket and I’m sure that letter is mixed within a pile of her hair ties, or somewhere in a lost box by now. Clearly, the idea of “lettering” is a big American issue, and we all have our rights to express ourselves and show our differences, but the reactions to this article have now gone too far.
    Of course I nor SUN staff was expecting this reaction whatsoever, I really wasn’t. Once again, you’ll have to excuse my ignorance, but a letter to me is a letter. That’s just my take. But the reactions, emotions and profanity-laced hatred, particularly on social media, has to stop.
    After talking with the principal, I went directly to talk to Marti Martinez to apologize profusely. And I meant it. I felt terrible performing arts felt as though we had slighted them. This was not our intention whatsoever. So Marti and I and the principal felt it would be a good idea to print the rebuttal the following day and distribute. Of course, not an easy feat considering we did distribute a day early because of the Holiday concert, and our journalism class happened to be at the same time as the concert. Needless to say we redistributed, we did try to make amends and keep tempers down, but seems we were not successful. I write a direct apology to the performing arts teachers. And then I heard stories about faculty getting in an uproar over who gets letters. This was about the most perfect storm of foul weather that could have possibly happened within our school, an institution where for the most part, I’ve always seen different groups recognized and respected and as the advisor, we’ve always equally covered arts and sports online and in publications.
    So The SUN has taken a pretty bad toll here. And what many people are not even thinking about is the amount of effort staff put into our newsmagazine. We don’t have a parent booster, we don’t get any finances from the school, no one pays for our publication. All students and staff get a free copy and these come from ads we have to sell. So on Thursday we handed out the newsmagazine and were very excited for everyone to get a copy. Yet after this whole fiasco, I don’t think a single person on SUN staff (including myself) wants to even look or even think about our publication right now. Staff feel defeated and completely despondent over this. Of course going to the Holiday concert and seeing the letters in our faces on the music stands didn’t help things at all. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
    But what really infuriates me more than anything else is my student and staff writer, Nicole Glidden, being targeted with so much profanity-laced hatred on social media. The comments she has received (and yes, we do have names), are so despicable you’d have thought she pushed a nuclear button. I have now talked twice to Nicole’s mother. We are ensuring Nicole keeps all shots of the hate-filled Snapchats and other social media posts. I am now beyond feeling bad about this issue, I’m furious that a 16-year-old girl who has every right to write an opinion piece for an American newsmagazine is now the target of extreme cyberbullying. It’s one thing to express your opinion on The MC SUN through a letter to the editor or even posting to this site, but the relentless attack against one of my students shows far more disrespect, lack of ethics and a blatant disregard or any decency far more so than our article that I tried very, very clearly (and apologized profusely for) that was a mistake. Once again, this was a mistake. All newspapers, magazines, news web sites make mistakes and sometimes opinions are posted that not everyone agrees with. But if a varsity or club letter means so much to people that they’re willing to cyberbully minors, then all of your letters (athletic or arts) are useless if that’s what they represent. To me, your character counts more than just a label or a letter, and if you can’t behave and have to cuss out my staff member incessantly then your letter to me stands for something completely different.
    The last few days I have seen a side of Mount Carmel I have never experienced before. I’m hoping the break gives everyone a chance to relax, calm down and get some perspective. Because if I get back to school in 2016 and one of my students is still getting cyberbullied, I will be prepared to deal with people appropriately. Trust me on this.
    So for now, I wish everyone happy holidays and let’s try to get along. Whether you’re a saxophone player or on the baseball team, you’re all valued, you’re all respected in my eyes. Let’s learn to acknowledge we all have out talents and should be viewed equally.
    I’m hoping this letter posted puts things in perspective. I sure would like to start 2016 on a positive note. That responsibility lies within us all.
    Tim Calver
    Journalism Adviser

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