No Salt Here

Alexis Burch, Online Editor

This story is a continuation of “No Salt Here,” from page eight of the Sept. Prospective print edition.

Boys and girls with blue face paint will tweet discreditable claims about a rival in the opposing student section. The Panther statue may have a few visitors bearing gifts from across the county. Our pep rallies will feature boys dressed in maroon, targets for the crowd to ridicule. This is how students prepare for the most attended game of the high school football season: the Salt Bowl.

But when we are face-to-face with students from the school we have been raised to hate, does anyone turn the social media posts into real words?

I put this to the test by venturing to the Benton student section.

In previous years, guards stood by the gates dividing Benton and Bryant, and they turned away the majority of students who tried to pass. However, this year, people were free to float from one side to another.

While surrounded by maroon, I expected evil stares or boos, or vendors turning me away due to the blue color of my shirt. Worst-case scenario, I imagined fans pouring drinks over my head or hot dogs thrown at my feet. But game-goers refused to be anything other than polite.

I was invisible in the crowd, no matter how much I wanted to stand out. The closest thing to harassment I endured was an elderly woman softly touching my back before asking if I could step out of her way. Vendors served anyone in their line, as they were only concerned with the green coming out of attendee’s pockets.

My experiment was about to end when I stopped to watch the halftime show. Students in maroon shirts entered the field from one tunnel, and blue from the other; their only concern was performing as a perfect joint band, not the numbers on the scoreboard.

As I walked back to Bryant’s side of the stadium, I passed a little boy in maroon who was mocking his older brother for wearing blue. All of the boy’s friends, also in maroon, stood up for the Bryant supporter, saying, “We love Bryant, too!”

The morning after Salt Bowl, a tweet appeared on my timeline. It was a Benton football player congratulating us on our win. It is now apparent to me that “rival” is not completely synonymous with “enemy.”