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Changing Sports Fever, One Word at a Time

Enough about our high school athletes, already. Let's read about our artists.

Funny what happens when you are out of town for a week. You have a chance to reflect on your home and community.

For the most part, Our Fair City looks pretty darn good. That is, until you read between the lines, or even the lines themselves.

After my plane landed, and I was catching up on local news, I read about Kevin Anderson, a Paly football star who has just been “signed” by Stanford University. Signed? Is that the new term for “accepted”? Do they “sign” star high school artists or actors? Do they even recruit them? Yeah. No. Probably not.

Don’t get me wrong. I am happy for young Anderson. He will be at a great school, getting a great education, and he will also have the chance to play a fun sport. Lucky guy. That’s not where my gripe is. My gripe is with a community that cares so deeply about its student athletes that what college team they decide to play on is considered news. Has the lead in the school play’s choice of college made the papers? Where is the editor of the award-winning Paly Voice going? Or, what about , the Intel Science Talent finalist? When he is “signed” by a great university, will it become headline news?

I thought about a conversation I’d had the other day with my three children. We were driving past Menlo-Atherton High School, and they were marveling at the relatively new theater arts building. Its sloping design and unique features were intriguing and inviting. “It makes the school look cool,” they agreed. We later drove past the stunning theater arts building at Woodside High School, and my children asked me why we don’t have an equally impressive facility at Paly or at Gunn. Do I tell them it’s because our town simply doesn’t value the arts as much as it does sports? We certainly managed to raise the money for a new football stadium and a new swimming pool at these schools, now didn't we?

My children live in a town that worships sports, and, sadly, their mother has fallen prey to the local disease. My sister brought this reality home to me when she visited this past fall. She is an artist who lives in Florence, Italy. After a weekend of racing between the soccer fields, the baseball stands and the cross-country tracks, she asked, “So when do the kids practice their art?” She remembered when her godson spent hours designing clothes, when her niece took photographs of anything and everything, when her nephew’s paintings were selected to hang in a local art show. I had to answer her, “they don’t.” They don’t, because with all of their sporting commitments, there isn’t time to pursue art, music, drama, or much else, for that matter. And who really is to blame? Uh, duh.

So, while the rest of the world celebrates the Packers’ win, I think I will celebrate Caroline Moley. She is a freshman at Paly and a theater star who recently landed a role in James Franco’s mother’s new play. One day, I have no doubt, she will be “signed” by a great college to act in their theater program. When she does, I plan to write about it, because our town needs to know. 

commuter February 07, 2011 at 05:21 PM
The community does care about academic achievement. The problem is that the media doesn't give academics much attention. That includes the Patch.
Janet Gardiner February 08, 2011 at 04:22 AM
At the end of the year, especially, the media give a great deal of attention to academic achievement in Palo Alto. But Ms. Stromberg was lamenting Palo Alto's lack of time for--and attention to--art, music, drama, and other fine arts and performing arts that students are--or could be--involved in. I totally agree with her. And "commuter" shouldn't lump these fine arts and performing arts together with academic subjects--they are beyond the standard curricular subjects.
Palo Alto Parent February 08, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Signing Day is a National, not local event. While I totally agree that we do not give enough press time to the performing and fine arts, Ms. Stromberg missed the point. Kevin Anderson, 5 other Paly students and other athletes all over the country "signed" letters of intent to play a Division one sport. This is national news reported at our local level. And it does not just mean that they were "accepted" to a college - it means that the athlete is making a commitment to play for that school. Paly is building a new performing arts center with bond money. The new football fields at Paly and Gunn and the new Paly pool were all funded through parental donations, not District money.
Lisen Stromberg February 08, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Thanks to all for your comments. It is true, Signing Day, is a National, not local event. Perhaps my gripe then should be with the country as a whole and not exclusively with Our Fair City. But, given that our residents donated private money for athletics and not for a new performing arts center, doesn't that say it all? Three cheers for the bond money we were finally able to raise. It's about time. Lisen Stromberg

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