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Do college rivalries belong in elementary schools?

Updated on June 15, 2010

Towards the beginning of my children's last school year, they came home with a note and they were very excited that their school was having a "College Day," The note was encouraging the students to wear a college t shirt or colors of their favorite college. The idea, the note explained would be to bring interest in going to college for the students.

O.K, I thought, so I shelled out the $30 dollars it cost for two shirts. I bought the shirts thinking it was for a good cause and I was helping my kids show their school spirit towards higher education. What could be wrong with that? My Alma Mater is the University of North Texas so I was a bit partial to UNT and when I saw one of their shirts and pointed it out to my little angels, they quickly shot down my suggestion and only wanted Texas Tech shirts. When I asked them why, they just said that a lot of the teachers at their school went to Texas Tech so they wanted to wear what their teachers would wear. Learning from and emulating their teachers is a good thing for them, I thought. What could be wrong with that?

Shortly after College Day, we were in our kitchen as I was cooking dinner and my children were doing their homework. When I asked my son how College Day went, he proceeded to show me what he had learned from the event. He held up one hand with the sign of the University of Texas' "Hook 'em horns" and with his other hand, he used his fingers to represent a gun and made a gunshot sound and then the horns turned downward to signify that the longhorn was dead! After a moment of thinking... "That's where my tax dollars go?" my surprise turned to concern as I thought that something was wrong with that.

I understand that there are all sorts of rivalries from the Hatfields and McCoys, sibling rivalries to school rivalries and that school rivalries are mostly to poke fun at each school and bring everyone out to the local Friday night game, but I also feel that rivalries can have a negative impact as well, which can lead to name calling and bad feelings arising between children if one of them is in the minority and likes someone or something different. Do we really need to foster more negative feelings in our schools?

Peer pressure is tough enough to get through without adding the mix of which college is better than the other. There are many good colleges out there and one is not any better than the other. I pride myself in being an open mom but I think I'm going to put the t shirts up for a while and see if my kids continue to support Texas Tech. I told my children my concerns and they validated those by telling me that there were a few fights at school with kids arguing that their college choice was better. There is nothing wrong with showing pride in the college that one attended, but when speaking or doing negative signs, like the "shoot em horns," please remember that your child or someone else's child will be watching everything you do.

What could be wrong with that?

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