Guest Editorial | Sarah Hayes

How society defines “cool” determines what gets media attention. Performing arts are not considered “cool,” so they don’t get the same recognition that sports receive. What can be done to fix this problem? First, the performing arts community needs to stop complaining. Instead, we need to do something about it. We need to take a look at the current amount of recognition that each receives and figure out what sports are doing right. Then we need to adapt what they do to fit our specific needs.

Nearly every day, newspapers report sporting events, often devoting an entire section complete with stories and photographs. The high school yearbook also contains an abundance of information about sports. Traditionally, every sport gets two pages in the yearbook; last year volleyball got four.

The radio also takes an active role in reporting sports. Nearly every game is broadcast live and scores are repeated the next day. Coaches are also interviewed many times throughout their sport’s season.

Performing arts, on the other hand, receive far less attention in the media. Last year, it was hard to find coverage of speech, band, and fall play in the newspaper. The same is true of the yearbook. A yearbook member is at nearly every sporting event; someone has yet to come to a speech event. I know cameras are not allowed in the performance rooms at speech contests, yet there are plenty of photo opportunities before and after performances. I also understand that speech contests are usually far away. In response, we have created a talent showcase in the last two years which has taken place at the high school. Although the speech team got two pages in the yearbook, all of the pictures were from the camera of Mrs. Horn, the speech coach, and she wrote the captions herself.

The fall play also got two pages, but again, the pictures came from Mrs. Horn. The yearbook staff wrote the captions this time, but these captions suggest that the writer may not have seen the play. For example, the caption for one of the yearbook photos reads, “Brad, are you going in for a kiss???” In the picture, Brad is shaking Stephanie to wake her up. Madame Arcati (Stephanie) had performed séances throughout the play, and she always passed out after she was done. There was no kissing in the play and Charles (Brad) was married to Ruth; it would make no sense for him to be trying to kiss someone else.

Students talk a great deal in school, and their favorite subject is generally sports. Athletes talk about their excitements and anticipations for the upcoming game. They also talk about rivalries and strategies to beat their rivals. Sports have come to depend on this hype; while parents come to watch their children, the students are the ones who do the most cheering.

In contrast, the performing arts get far less attention from the student body. When people ask me if I’m going to “the game,” I respond with, “Are you going to the play?” While students do the most cheering at sporting events, performing arts rely on parents to cheer them on. Students don’t often come to speech events merely to be spectators. If they do, they are usually the sibling of someone who is performing.

Although the community seems more aware of sporting events, both sports and the performing arts work hard to inform the public of their activities.

Where they differ, however, is in how the community responds. People come to sporting events even if they don’t know any of the players. On the other hand, attendance at a performing arts event is often limited to spectators who know the performers in some way.

We need to take a more active role in reporting our performing arts achievements. Instead of waiting for the newspaper to come to us, we need to send them stories with pictures attached and continue to send them until they are printed.

Mrs. Horn has started to take a more active approach with the yearbook by sending pictures and captions, and that needs to continue. Our parents also need to be our publicists. They need to encourage their friends and co-workers to come to performances. Student performers need to be more vocal about our accomplishments around school.

We need to insist on being acknowledged at pep rallies and assemblies rather than wait to be approached.

We need to redefine stereotypes and make performing arts sound “cool.” Speech has created an “Evening with the Stars” performance to showcase our talents to the Red Oak community.

We have started to be more active in publicizing performing arts events, but we need to keep fighting for a spot in the world of advertising.

Instead of complaining about the amount of attention sports events receive, we need to take a lesson from them and copy what they’re doing right.

Sarah Hayes is a student at Red Oak High School.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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