The Sidwell Friends football team has been outscored 373-43 this season. When Washington City Paper columnist Dave McKenna pointed that out, he learned that the school's tony pansies are way feistier on the Internet than they are on the field.
Sidwell Friends (the private school attended by Presidential and Congressional offspring since the first Roosevelt administration) was once a football powerhouse, winning six consecutive league titles from 2000-2005. Now the program is in worse shambles than Nancy Pelosi's legacy.
Sidwell went into Saturday's game against Saint James, a boarding school outside Hagerstown, having lost the two previous weeks by a combined score of 95-0, and gave up a touchdown on Saint James' first play from scrimmage. Coach John Simon tried to fire up his team by screaming "You gotta play football, not lacrosse!" at them. That didn't work. Sidwell went down 38-0, thereby qualifying for slaughter-rule protections, when there were still about eight minutes left in the first half.
The final score was 51-12.
Injuries have decimated the team — 10 players were down after the first two games, and "school officials ordered the forfeit of a game with Baltimore Lutheran, fearing the lack of upperclassmen could create dangerous mismatches against more mature opponents."
And with the spectre of concussions ever-present, the cycle continues. One Twitter user wrote that "my brother, a frmr Sidwell f'ball star (there was such a thing!), won't let his son play b/c of head trauma stuff. He can't be the only one." Malcolm Gladwell may be on to something after all.
Only 30 kids showed up for football tryouts this fall, according to McKenna, forcing the school to pull the plug on their junior varsity team and send trembling 14-year-olds out on the field to face other schools' older and more robust varsity squads.
It's one of several reasons for the team's woeful state. McKenna notes that parents blame administrators, while administrators blame the construction of a new field last season that precluded any home games and lowered interest on campus. The school's Wikipedia skews preemptively defensive, lamenting that "recently, Sidwell's football team has not performed well due to lack of recruiting (school policy), injuries, and small class sizes."
Unsurprisingly, McKenna's column drew a delightful medley of comments from scorned Sidwellians to gleeful opponents alike. As it turns out, what these people lack in football prowess, they also lack in simple grammatical mastery.
"whose worse the kids playing on the team or the reporter who is payed, probably very little, to write about them in a news site that no one reads," writes "Bob". "At least these kids will go onto a real future unlike your pathetic life." His thoughts were echoed by a user called "fuck dave mckenna," who weighed in with this missive:
dude, dave mckenna, u have no life, u probably jack off in ur parents basement [Ed note: Take a shot!] while writing this article. dude, get a life, or better yet go back 2 college, o wait u never went 2 college becuz ur school sucked ass compared to sidwell, dont fuck with us, i got mcgruff with me, we puff much izzy
Some commenters, like SFSkid, take the team's suckery in stride:
Well, we are smarter than all of you. I suppose we do have to suck at something as a sort of consolation prize to make your miserable existences seem more worthwhile. I hope you enjoy writing for a hipster rag and making very little money.
But many, many commenters are downright disgusted, referring to McKenna as a "sick person," and not in the usual DC-area sweet-lax sense of the word. But I mean, he's not nearly as sick as commenter "Sidwell Student #2," who stridently states his credentials thusly: "As a student at Sidwell, I watch the football team practice hard and eagerly every single day." I guess there are stranger fetishes to have.
Dave McKenna seems rightly bemused by the meltdown. In a followup eyeroll on the WCP website called "Even The Lucky Get Losers Sometimes," he even concedes to the haters.
Nothing I could write is as funny as the flame wars taking place around the football team. These people don't find any humor in watching the most prestigious school in the most powerful city in the world field a team so lame that some squad named John Paul the Great poleaxed the crap outta ‘em, 61-6, and left half the Sidwell roster gimpy.
What's always funny is seeing the prep school world play so neatly into type. But it's not surprising: as someone whose Deadspin beat is apparently "privileged white boy sports," I've gotten my share of similarly from-on-high zingers. Here's one scorned lacrosse player (high school class of '13) who was kind enough to email me back in May:
The great sport of lacrosse will go on whether or not you like it. No matter how much you hate the people who play it, you will always be an inferior athlete. I attend St. Paul's School in Baltimore, Maryland. My Dad has made more money than you will ever make, does that automatically make me a jerk off? I'm really dying to know the opinion on how I live my life by the great author on the prestigious Deadspin. Your website has been garbage, is garbage, and will continue to be garbage.
Have a nice day.
His father must be proud. (And his mother too, if she's anything like the dignified Sidwell ladies who post on forums like DC Urban Mom.) I'd much rather be raised by this guy:
I dare say, sport, you seem to have inflamed my upper NW chums more than a Bush/Cheney sticker on a Hummer 2!
The pursuit of sport is not something we put as much emphasis on here at Sidwell Friends - it's such a vulgar enterprise. My own father wasn't so enlightened - he loved baseball, hunting and other antiquated male pastimes, whereas I celebrate opera, gardening and appeasing my angry, Prius-driving wife.
While my passivity and latent homosexuality may negatively impact my son's performance on the football field, I am confident it will prepare him well for a life of NPR, canvas totes, and garden parties featuring locavore cuisine.
Dude gets it. You want locavore cuisine? Try the Sidwell Friends football team. It's kinda lean, yes, but it comes already slaughtered.