City Desk

Even the Lucky Get Losers Sometimes: Sidwell Friends Football Hits a Bad Patch

For the hoi polloi-obsessed print platform of Washington City Paper, I wrote this week about the state of the Sidwell Friends' football program. It's in a blue state.

Judging from the online commenters, both on this site at and at a Sidwell football thread that's been thriving over at DCUrbanMom.com all season, some folks don't think anybody should mention just how badly things are going on the gridiron over there. Nothing I could write is as funny as the flame wars taking place around the football team. These people don't find any humor in watching the most prestigious school in the most powerful city in the world field a team so lame that some squad named  John Paul the Great poleaxed the crap outta 'em, 61-6, and left half the Sidwell roster gimpy. A team so overmatched that the slaughter rule, which kicks in once a team is down 35 points, has been invoked in EVERY Sidwell game this season. Has that ever happened before?

It ain't the kids' fault things are so awful. More than half the Sidwell squad is freshmen and sophomores. They'd be playing JV football, if the school hadn't done away with it this year because of a lack of bodies. They'll be better players for the pounding they're taking this season.

But, still. Losing 61-6 to a dead pope's boys? Damn if that ain't funny.

And, besides, Sidwell's imperfections just don't get enough play. Just a couple weeks ago, the school made international news when President Obama was on the "Today" show and was asked whether his daughters "would get the same kind of education at a D.C. public school" that they get at Sidwell.

"I'll be blunt with you," the president said. "The answer is no."

That musta hurt the feelings of some parents and kids around town. Reality bites, as they say.

Well, if anybody would ask me if the president could have sent his kids to a school with a worse football team than Sidwell's, I'd have to be blunt with them, too. The answer is no.

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  • boehnerrocks

    Not to mention they play in the worst league in the D.C. area.

  • I don’t live with my mother

    Okay first of all it is very funny how you take so much pleasure in trying to get at kids and students around and related to sidwell. You must be jealous of them because every kid at that school is going to make more money that you and won't live with their mother. Sidwell has one of the best acedemics for a high school in the US and the best in DC. Don't try to embarrass them because they are not good at sports, they are being taught to strive for success in studies just like you strive to make fun of kids. Not only do kids think your article is childish, adults and fellow journalist think you are an infant aswell:
    http://24ahead.com/blog/archives/007719.html
    TO bad at your age ur income is from writing for the "Cheap Seats" section of the NOT #1 paper in the DC area, and me at age 17 am making more money than you. I guess I'm just smarter than you. I cannot wait for your next article, it should be a blast.

    p.s. I'm glad that DCurbanMom's worked you up enough to write this article, it's cute how mothers can make things happen isn't it?!? ;-)

  • JP

    So many opportunities over there to play The Feud (TM). Why not take advantage of it?

  • noodlez

    damn mckenna. slim u betta watch yourself you might get side swiped by a white BMW X5 with an OBX sticker.

    I don't live with my mother-seems really pissed.

  • JP

    I-don't-live-with-my-mother needs to take the silver spoon out of his mouth and learn how to write.

  • Bears Eat It Raw

    "...most prestigious school in the most powerful city in the world..."

    That is a stretch. Landon is much more prestigious. I will fight anyone who begs to differ.

    Bears Eat It Raw

  • Typical DC BS

    @noodlez: Don't forget about the lacrosse stick being waved out the window from the X5.

  • gina a

    Keep at it McKenna-you're still the best sports writer out there. The Sidwell students and parents who are shelling out big bucks just hate it when anyone dares to point out their flaws. There's an old saying "A pig always squeals when you stick it" and so they have.

  • Martin Bromstone

    I am only writing this comment, Mr. McKenna, because I know you will read it.

    The internet is the most beautiful thing created by man. The internet has given anyone who has the time endless opportunities to express his or herself and indulge in whatever brings that person pleasure. While some use the web for practical purposes, there are even more who choose to exploit its anonymity. You can be pretty much whoever you want and say what ever you want and it will probably never come back to bite you. Every time I watch a You tube video I scroll down to see the hateful comments people leave and I always wonder who those people really are--in real life. Would someone really say such mean and insensitive things to another face to face? The answer is "no." If I said half of the comments that I read on You tube, blogs, this site, I would get my ass kicked by everyone. These people, mostly 13-17 year old kids, are known as "trolls" because they pick fights and offend people for the fun of it. Its a pretty funny concept, isn't it? A dorky little kid in one place making another dorky little kid, living half way across the world, cry for no reason but the fun of it. Oh wait. That's not funny. Its called "cyber-bullying" and has brought recent suicides. Its weird and most of all its screwed up.
    Let me say this blatantly: Mr. McKenna, you are no better than these little kids, these "trolls". It is clear from your writing and topic of choice that you have something against Sidwell Friends School. That is understandable. Its easy to make fun of rich, nerdy kids who go to a prestigious school and thus act like they are jerks because of it, especially during rough economic times. It is just as easy, however, to say, "No one reads Washington City Paper hahahaha." But neither of those things are fair or right. Neither of those things should be said by either party. These are hateful, unnecessary words. Let me reiterate: I understand if you dislike Sidwell. There's much to admire about the place, and for people who don't know kids who go there, there is a lot to hate. It is no secret that the football team has suffered from a painful season. It has been an absolutely horrible season for the fans and the players especially. This was the purpose of your first article, to mock the team's poor performance this season. Cool. What was the purpose of your second article? Did you make any new points regarding the team's record through out the season? No. You wanted a response. You, like the little kids all over the internet, wanted to make some parents and high school students angry. You won. You succeeded. You have really hurt some high school students who you do not know. A second article was written for the sole purpose of rubbing it in. Mr. McKenna, you know and I know and everyone who has read this article knows that you would never say these things to any player on the Sidwell Friends Football team. Or one of the parents. Or one of the students. Because you aren't a bad person. You are opinionated just like any journalist. But remember, you have better fights to pick. I am ashamed, Mr. McKenna, to have even read your writing. I hope you are too.

  • It’s getting old

    Mr. McKenna,

    Like Mr. Bromstone said, you have certainly made your point. As a "journalist," you are in a position of power that is very great and recently, you have been abusing that power. As you said in your previous article, the Sidwell Friends School football team is comprised of mostly underclassmen, which is a fact. Please tell me why you insist on mocking them?

    Honestly, Mr. Bromstone has taken the words out of my mouth. These kids are on the same level as you. But what Mr. Bromstone failed to point out is that you sir initiated a cyber fight that was completely unnecessary and brutal. From what it seems, these kids at Sidwell Friends School play as hard as they can and have persevered through one of the toughest football season a school has ever had in this area.

    Mr. McKenna, like I stated earlier in this post, you have a position of great power being a journalist. Now, the right thing to do would be to write a column apologizing to the players and school for unnecessarily beating up on kids who simply want to play the sport they love.

  • I don’t live with my mother

    LANDON KNOWS BOYS. They are not prestigious.

  • student

    Dear Mr. McKenna,

    I was hoping to find out more about your brilliant football career. Sadly, i found that you didn't have one. With that said, you should try putting on some pads and play a game or two. I know your are just trying to get a reaction, but seriously, get a life. The only consolation Sidwell students have is that we will be making money and bettering the world while you write lousy sports articles for a mediocre website.

  • aWhiteMan

    As a white man, I've gotta say this is such a "white person problem." By which I really mean this is a rich person problem.

    Seriously don't you all have something better to do than argue about a high school football team? Mr. McKenna's article, while harsh, isn't inherently any worse than any other article criticizing a celebrity's fashion sense. And I'm certain that many of the commentators here have enjoyed reading scathing articles that paint people with an R next to their names as boors.

    And frankly, starting a flame war on the internet just makes everyone look bad. Students, you ought to take the higher ground and simply ignore this article. Mr. McKenna will still have a job tomorrow, you'll still have a football team tomorrow and frankly life will go on.

    Now, as for the parents on that website, you all are embarrassing. For a bunch of supposedly well-heeled folks of high class, culture and income you sure act like a bunch of girls still in middle school.

    I plan on not raising my kids in such an environment though. Public school it'll be for them, preferably away from the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast snobbery.

  • a stand-up guy

    I will have you know that people attend sidwell for its academic excellence, not for its sports program. If you want that, go to Landon. And good luck raping hookers while you're at it, by the way. Scumbags.

    On another note, Mr. McKenna, please stop being jealous of Sidwell's swagger.

  • Anonymous

    Sidwell is not the most prestigious school in the city - STA is. And STA has a real sports program.

  • DC Resident

    Sorry "Anonymous", but you need to accept that Sidwell is now more prestigious; it's not necessarily better than STA, just as STA isn't necessarily better than Sidwell. Nationwide, more eyebrows are raised at Sidwell's mention than at the mention of STA. Attribute that to whatever you want, but it's true.
    As for STA having a "real sports program". Yes, indeed they do. But you seem to be implying that Sidwell doesn't. I won't start whipping out stats and scores, but Sidwell has had more nationally ranked sports and athletes than St. Albans has had in the past few years, so just keep that in mind.

  • DC Resident

    Is that some kind of joke? Where is your evidence that "Sidwell has had more nationally ranked sports and athletes than STA"? Are you one of the misguided who still insists that Sidwell soccer is somehow better than Episcopal, who hasn't lost a game since 2008?

    Yeah, Sidwell has really produced giants in the fields of sports. Meanwhile, STA has had guys like Jesse Hubbard, the all time leading scorer in the MLL and multiple All-American at Princeton, and Danny Hultzen, the ACC freshman of the year and the ACC pitcher of the year.

    LOL.

  • Ellen

    Of course you have to get the last word and without any move to call your story what it is: cheap, gratuitous trash at the expense of high school kids. You have a warped view of what's "funny:" Calling high school kids losers and perpetuating use of the word "girls" as an insult. That not only smears the boys, but is a misogynistic denigration of half the population.
    Where are your kids playing sports this weekend? I need a good laugh.

  • Anonymau5

    You people are ridiculous. The man is a sportswriter. He is entitled to cover any sport he likes, including high school varsity football. Since when is writing about a losing team considered "denigration"? If anything, McKenna is excusing the team for its abysmal record by placing blame on the administration which is probably where it belongs.

    What else does he have to say to get the point across that he isn't making fun of any of our precious children or trying to hurt their soft, vulnerable hearts? Maybe it should be the parents' job to coddle their kids, not a sportswriter.

    Maybe the second article was useless, and maybe McKenna is engaging in the type of flame war that he criticizes, but don't they teach "two wrong don't make a right" at Sidwell Friends? Apparently not.

  • Anonymau5

    Also, it's just ridiculous watching commenters and forum posters arguing over which prep school is more "prestigious"! It's so laughable the bubble that some people live in. Can you all just stop the arguing for a moment and be thankful that you are even in a position to argue about the prep school prestige and think for a moment about how just across the river, or even down the street, there are kids who have to deal every day with with whatever atrocities the DC public school system hands them?

  • Spill the Beans

    @ Anonymau5,

    Right on. These Sidwell parents are unbelievable. Nobody is being attacked. It's a simple blog talking about a particular situation. If one doesn't like it, just ignore it. Instead, they attack the writer with personal insults, as if that somehow proves their case.

  • Sidwell grad

    Who cares about high school football in DC? Real athletes play ultimate!

    I've loved watching the uppity backlash this has caused, though. Keep up the good work, McKenna! Rouse that rabble!

  • football parent

    Contact sports doctrine and intentional negligent behavior on the part of SFS. Of course journalists have noticed this abnormal situation.

  • Mike

    A lot of ANGRY SERIOUS PEOPLE are taking their prep school football a liiiiiiittle too seriously. It's prep school football. Say it with me again: "prep school football." No one gives a fuck. Fact.

  • Gabe

    Mr. Bromstone states:

    "The internet is the most beautiful thing created by man. The internet has given anyone who has the time endless opportunities to express his or herself and indulge in whatever brings that person pleasure. While some use the web for practical purposes, there are even more who choose to exploit its anonymity. You can be pretty much whoever you want and say what ever you want and it will probably never come back to bite you. "

    This is one of the most blatantly false and idiotic things I have ever read on this "beautiful" creation that we called the Internet. Sidwell kids, and they're quite a few who attend my college, are basically unintelligent spoiled brats. And these comments solidify that stereotype.

    McKenna is a journalist. He reports on stories that the general public might find intriguing, controversial, etc. I would say he's done his job quite well and I encourage him to keep up the good work.

  • It’s getting old

    Mckenna,

    Nice call on Sidwell getting "slaughtered" this week.

  • Sidwell Rocks!!!!!

    @bears eat it raw
    bring it on!!!!!

  • DC Observer

    I am not associated with Sidwell--just someone who thinks that, most of the time, sports can be a good learning experience for adolescents. I believe the original tone of the article was extremely nasty, and nothing about the follow-up piece has changed that. Why pick on a high school team in such a smirky, giggly, sophomoric way? The job of a columnist/blogger is to draw eyeballs to his/her work, so I guess the author did that, and that's the answer to my "why write the article" question. To the extent any of the online comments/responses are from Sidwell kids (who knows, it's the internet?), one could wish they watched their language and took a more temperate tone. But, after all -- THEY are kids. The author is not. Maybe he's a parent, maybe not, but I would think a parent would have more empathy than to mock and humiliate a group of children like this because they go to a high profile school and play on an unsuccessful sports team.

  • Silence is Golden

    Guys, I know you may want to post how you feel on this article, but I feel like any discussion/debate in this setting is pointless and a waste.

    This article was written clearly to provoke another online-forum debate among students and parents and we are only validating Mr. McKenna's poor and obsolete style of writing if we play his game.

    Therefore, "Silence is Golden." Thanks.

  • Rozay

    First of all, while Sidwell's team couldn't win a single game this season, they still have the most MAC Championships out of any team in the league in guess which sport...FOOTBALL! Second, despite what it might look like, this is not a sports article. While many real sports articles are biased, they are about sports. In this article, you not only bash the teenagers on the Sidwell Football team more aggressively than most sports writers do on NFL teams that perform poorly,but you also include comments on the schools affiliation with the president and other things that have very little to do with football. Do you hate Obama? Were your kids not admited into Sidwell because they weren't smart enough? Do you hate the fact that these teenagers will be more successful than you can ever dream to be?

    Aside from the content, you should really work on your writing. In real newspapers, you generally are expected to use real words, and not "aint" and "musta." I realize you are writing about fourteen year-olds, but that does not mean that you have to write like one. Please grow up, Mr. McKenna.

  • Walt

    On top of the misplaced Sidwell bashing (for what, cheap political points) now the author of this column decided to add Catholic school bashing to his repertoire: "Losing 61-6 to a dead pope's boys? Damn if that ain't funny."

    -- Uhh, last I checked there are a lot of schools named after former (thus by convention:dead) popes that have outstanding football teams. Many Catholic schools are athletic powerhouses... including some in this area, as any area reporter who's covered sports should know. Dematha, Good Counsel ring a bell? Oh, and Paul VI (another school named after a former pope up Jersey) seems to be at least a tad competitive in football... go ahead look them up: ( http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/high_school/20101111_For_Paul_VI_football_team__powerhouses_lie_ahead.html ) .... or maybe not.

    Even if there weren't any good football programs at schools named after former leaders of one of the worlds largest religions, I still don't see why is it funny. I guess we should start making fun of other religions too, while were at it. It's much more fun to find baseless reasons to poke fun of kids trying hard to be competitive both in academics and sports. That seems to be McKenna's forte.

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