The Washington Post

Color me proud

NFL fans would be well served to take a lesson from high school football fans. (Paul Sancya/AP)

Students at Westfield High School in Westfield, Indiana, want to send a message that the focus in sports should always be on sportsmanship.

Drake Gunning and Danny Wohlschlaeger, the R and the K, of the “ROCKS” boys, five seniors painted in green, each with a letter painted on his chest, have made it their mission to leave Westfield with a legacy.

They encourage “insane volume levels and outrageous sportsmanship,” focusing on supporting their own team rather than “trashing” the opponent. At home games, the marching band even plays the opposition’s fight song, and rival players are greeted as they exit their team bus.

The “ROCKS” legacy includes loyalty. Cheering one of the winningest teams of the decade, has made it easy for Colts fans to wear blue on Sundays. However, Manning’s third surgery and possible European stem cell treatment for his neck injury could be the start of that most dreaded being, the fair-weather fan. That’s not the case in Westfield, where despite a string of losing seasons, fans proudly display the school colors.

Except when they trade in those colors for spirited themes. On Sept. 9th, the Westfield student body waved American flags and traded the school’s green and gold for red, white, and blue to honor lives lost on 9/11. Last Friday, they were the “Neon Nation,” literally glowing in pride as they threw glitter and squeezed baby powder into the Friday night lights, creating an effect visible enough from the nearby highway to slow traffic.

Receiver Kory Kostecka said looking up from the field at the “Neon Nation” was “amazing.” Teammates Normando Gonzalez and Bryce Gibson agreed. Rocks fans couldn’t have been louder or prouder, even when the Rocks were down 30-7 at the half.

If these kids can do it, so can Colts, Seahawks and Dolphins fans. Young people can teach lessons that reach far beyond the football field, and one day soon they will be the fans filling NFL stadiums. I’d say that’s a future that looks, well, bright.


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