by Sarah Schwartz and Olivia Whitaker, Sports Contributors
photo by Roni Ohanian
*Name changed to protect interviewee’s identity
Since the installation of permanent stadium lights in 2020, every weekend has brought a student section packed with fans decked out in pink, white, black and even neon. However, attending these games has looked different recently. In a Sept. 22 email to the community, administrators outlined a new bag policy prohibiting student fans from bringing bags and water bottles to athletic events.
In previous years attendees could bring bags, water bottles and any other belongings they wished. This sudden change left many within the South community wondering what prompted the new policy. Athletic Director Patricia Gonzalez said the policy was implemented for the safety of the students, as games draw large numbers of fans.
“Every weekend is a safety issue of who is coming and with what inside. We don’t have resources to bag-search like in some concert venues,” she said. “The decision was made to protect everyone from anything that could be brought into a venue where there are so many people involved.”
History teacher Lillian Robinson is one of the few teacher volunteers who monitor the student section at games. She said that neighboring schools were having issues with attendees bringing items that violated their policies.
“There have been a range of incidents within other districts where students are bringing illicit materials to games, and we do not want that here,” she said. “It was a good idea as a preventative measure.”
Alissa Allen*, a South student who asked to remain anonymous, said that before the policy was enforced, alcohol was present among students in the crowd.
“There would always be a couple people who had water bottles with stuff in it,” they said. “I believe that [the policy] was implemented because of people drinking at games and adults finding out about it. I think this is their way of trying to keep us safe.”
The policy has also come following years of schools in surrounding districts enforcing a similar restriction. Guidelines that prohibit outside drinks and bags at games have been enforced for years by schools like Natick High, Lincoln Sudbury Regional High and Newton North.
South parent and co-president of the Booster Club Teri Ginsburg said that after doing research about surrounding schools, she finds the policy reasonable.
“When I looked even further, I saw that colleges, concert halls and venues had these types of policies as well,” she said. “Then it made a lot of sense to me.”
Allen* said that although they can see where the administration is coming from, they don’t believe the new policy will fulfill its goal.
“I understand that they want to try and keep everyone safe, but I also think that this isn’t necessarily going to stop people from doing what they’re doing. People will still drink,” they said.
Senior Ben Modiano, a member of the boys cross country team who frequently attends games, also said that the policy may not achieve its intended impacts.
“People will just drink before the games if they plan on drinking anyway, or sneak things in more creative ways,” he said. “The administration should really rely on the students for doing the right things at games since it’s really a community event.”
The bag policy also forces many student-athletes to find a place to put their equipment when the locker rooms are closed. Modiano said the new policy inconveniences students like himself who attend night games directly from practice and must leave their bags unattended at the game.
“Personally, this change has been really annoying for me as a student-athlete who doesn’t have time to go home after practices and before the game,” he said.
As the crowd size at games continues to grow, Ginsburg said the policy prioritizes student safety.
“It’s to protect the kids,” Ginsburg said. “It might have seemed abrupt, but it’s really us catching up to what a lot of other schools have had in place for a long time.”