SGA Blacking Out on “Black-Out”

After a mishap or two, the SGA has had second thoughts on the popular all-black theme of Friday night football games.


Courtesy of @TheDenWPHS on Twitter

The 2014-2015 ‘blackout’ game, where a major incident caused SGA to change their minds about the popular term.

When Hype Squad first announced that the varsity football game against Lake Braddock High School scheduled for Sept. 25 would have an all black theme, word got out that the popular term ‘blackout’ had been banned by the SGA.

The reason? Students speculated that after last year’s incident, which took place during the 2014 ‘blackout’ game and involved the underage consumption of alcohol by Hype Squad members at a school-sanctioned event, that the word ‘blackout’ could not only be used to describe the theme of the attire for Friday night’s game, but also as an alcoholic blackout*; in which case their speculation would be partially correct.

*a ‘blackout’ in an alcohol-related context describes when someone has consumed too much alcohol that they cannot recall events that happened right before drinking

While the term ‘blackout’ has not been “banned” by the SGA, they have tried to steer towards alternative ways of discussing the all-black theme, as to avoid the negative connotation the word holds.

“We just thought it’d be better to avoid that terminology [‘blackout’] if we’re talking about wearing all black,” explained leadership teacher Nicole Borghard.“Because of the context of an alcoholic blackout, and because I teach seniors, and last year I had a senior make jokes after the blackout football game that ‘Well, we were just following instructions. They told us to blackout.’ So, as we were brainstorming the Hype Squad, we said, ‘Okay, we wanna wear all black but maybe we should call it something else.”

Consequently, the WPHS Hype Squad Twitter account refrained from using the word ‘blackout’ when discussing the theme of that Friday’s game, as seen here:

After the Lake Braddock game this year, however, new concerns presented themselves after the events of that night unfolded, including a minor incident similar to last year’s, pertaining to the negative connotation of ‘blackout,’ along with a situation that occurred right outside campus, in which two girls (who are not West Potomac students) were caught in a dangerous situation where one of them was hit by a car, and walked away with some injuries. Both girls were wearing black to the game, which raises the question, does the all-black attire present other safety risks at games besides underage drinking?

“That’s not something we’ve considered,” said Borghard on the safety risks of an all-black theme. “If you wore blue, it’d almost be the exact same thing. So I think the issue to tackle there is more of the safety out there, is everything well lit, do we need people out there directing traffic after a game? I’m not sure the attire is to blame.”

As for the minor alcohol incident during this year’s game, Borghard assures that administration, teachers, and security work together to prevent bigger safety concerns such as last year’s blackout game from happening again.

After two consecutive years of mishaps, are blackout games gone for good? Borghard said that it wouldn’t be necessary, and SGA decides year by year what themes they want to do for each game, anyway.

“This year it was especially apt because their [the varsity football team’s] new uniforms are black so we were matching them. I would say it’s definitely not banned but we’ll just see what they [SGA] wanna do in the future.”

The overall focus, she said, should be put on school spirit.

“We’d like to do more things that represent our school colors, it’s becoming kind of a trend at high schools to do white and black, but we’d like to see more of just blue and silver.”

With a focus on school spirit as opposed to high school trends, she explained, SGA hopes to evoke positivity among the West Potomac community with their decisions on spirit days and themes.

“We’re just trying to reframe it, you know, that’s kind of our goal overall is to re-frame things in a positive way, you know, to increase positive school culture, and make sure people are taking away the right messages from what we wanna give.”