A tradition going down in flames

Burning effigies should not be a school-sponsored event

A tradition going down in flames

Naomi Sutch, Reporter

When I think about sportsmanship, the first thing that comes to mind is shaking hands with the opposing team after a game. If we didn’t care about sportsmanship, then why shake hands?

As we know, Oakwood has an annual homecoming bonfire in which we also burn an effigy. Burning an effigy of an opposing team is one great example of bad sportsmanship. I find it wrong in so many ways. 

The reason that Oakwood throws an effigy into a fire is that we want to convey the message that we will win against our opposing team. However, it can send off the wrong meaning. As I mentioned before, it’s not very sportsman-like. Secondly, it’s not respectful. How would we feel if one (or all) of our opposing football teams burned a dummy with an Oakwood jersey?

When I think of what Oakwood would feel like if an effigy was burned of us, it’s not a positive thought. I think of the golden rule, specifically: treat others how you want to be treated. It’s a rule that is supposed to be learned in preschool. If teenagers and adults can’t follow that rule, why teach it in the first place?

I understand that football is just a game and we’re not actually burning a real player, but that isn’t an excuse to be wildly disrespectful toward a whole school. I also understand that burning the dummy is a tradition, but not all traditions are worth preserving.

According to The Washington Post, in 2018, a high school in Texas burned an effigy of a black player on the opposing team in an annual homecoming bonfire. This obviously sent off a highly-racist message that offended millions across the country.

We’re aware that Oakwood would never do anything intentionally racist and that our bonfire doesn’t have a racist connotation, but because of the past uses of effigies, it still gives off a negative connotation. The last thing we want is to be associated with any particular negative idea like racism. Even aside from racism, burning an effigy still is representative of burning a human. It is wrong to see that in a positive light.

I don’t think that all effigy-burning should be banned, it just shouldn’t be school-sponsored. Everybody is entitled to burn an effigy on their own property, but schools sponsoring these activities may encourage behavior that we may not want to be known for.