News

Friday night lights: debate over night games at MVHS

Some neighbors say game is intended as first step toward installing lights on football field

The discussion was heated but civil Wednesday night as community members, Mountain View High School students and the school's Athletic Boosters discussed whether the Spartans might hold their Oct. 26 homecoming game after dark. Advocates said the move is aimed at boosting school and community pride, while skeptical neighbors worried it's part of a bigger scheme to erect permanent floodlights in their backyards.

About 50 people -- mostly from homes surrounding the campus -- met at Alta Vista High School's multipurpose room Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. to listen as officials from the boosters and a handful of Mountain View students explained their plan for the upcoming homecoming match against Alta Vista High School. The Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District's board of trustees is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the nighttime game at its next meeting on Oct. 8.

"The point of doing this game is to build school spirit," JJ Kapp said to the crowd. Kapp is vice president of the MVHS Athletic Boosters Club and parent to a sophomore. The school's sports teams have all been improving, advancing further in the season and participation is up in certain athletic activities, he told the room. "Now the time is right to build school spirit. … What it really comes down to is the students."

However, many in the crowd expressed suspicion that the proposed homecoming game was merely a wedge, intended to move the school toward installing permanent lights -- an action that could lead to the district leasing the field to other teams and an ever-increasing stream of traffic, noise and teens behaving badly in the surrounding community.

Worries of bad behavior, paired with the strong community resistance, seemed to draw exasperation from many of the teens in the room.

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One highly vocal man, John Mahlmeister, addressed a group of MVHS seniors directly and told them he doesn't want to be their enemy, andcould even get behind the idea of having one night game each year played under temporary lights that could be wheeled on and off the field -- but concluding by telling the group, "I'm sorry, but you're being used."

Martin VanRyswyk said he feels the Athletic Boosters are trying to pull a quarterback sneak with this proposal. "It's a strategy," VanRyswyk said, recalling that the boosters were "chastised" once already by the MVLA board of trustees for not including the community in their plan for this year's homecoming game. So they are holding a "perfunctory meeting," and hoping they can "ram" the proposal through at the upcoming board meeting, he charged.

"We're not trying to 'ram' anything through," Kapp responded.

The reason his group has been working so rapidly, Kapp said, is that the school year has only recently begun and the boosters simply want the students and the community to be able to rally around the team -- not to mention the cheerleaders, the band and the dance squad who are also slated to perform at the event.

"Neighbors have every right to be concerned. We understand that. They don't necessarily know everything about us, so they don't immediately trust us to be able to put on a game without problems."

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Indeed, a handful of residents said they were convinced that above-average attendance would invariably result in above-average traffic, public intoxication, littering and vandalism. And at least two members of the audience said they did not trust the boosters' motives.

The suspicion is that the endgame is to begin hosting nighttime events -- sporting or otherwise -- on a regular basis. One resident who spoke up said that his family and many others understood there would be noise and other disturbances when they moved into the neighborhood. However, he and his neighbors can at least count on things quieting down at night, he said.

"It is my impression that their long-term goal is permanent lights," VanRyswyk said. "And so this is a trial to show the school board that they can pull it off. And it's going to be a show to try and be on the best behavior and make it work and then use that as evidence that is something they can do full time. So, to us, this is more than just one game."

Two students, seniors Mia Guthert and Kate Thomas, said it was upsetting to hear many of the adults in the crowd equate increased teens in the area with increased hooliganism.

Guthert said she understands that living near a high school means living nearer to a hub where there will be teens getting rowdy, but she thinks having one game is not going to send the neighborhood into a downward spiral. "I always think you're going to have troublemakers, but I really don't believe that having night games you're going to see a drastic increase in criminal activity."

Thomas said she and her friends would love to be able to attend a night game at their own school. Right now, she said, there is "no excitement" at the MVHS day games and she would rather go to a game at St. Francis High School, which hosts games at night. Thomas said she finds these events much more fun than sitting in the sun immediately following school on a Friday.

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Friday night lights: debate over night games at MVHS

Some neighbors say game is intended as first step toward installing lights on football field

by Nick Veronin / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 5, 2012, 10:34 am

The discussion was heated but civil Wednesday night as community members, Mountain View High School students and the school's Athletic Boosters discussed whether the Spartans might hold their Oct. 26 homecoming game after dark. Advocates said the move is aimed at boosting school and community pride, while skeptical neighbors worried it's part of a bigger scheme to erect permanent floodlights in their backyards.

About 50 people -- mostly from homes surrounding the campus -- met at Alta Vista High School's multipurpose room Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. to listen as officials from the boosters and a handful of Mountain View students explained their plan for the upcoming homecoming match against Alta Vista High School. The Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District's board of trustees is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the nighttime game at its next meeting on Oct. 8.

"The point of doing this game is to build school spirit," JJ Kapp said to the crowd. Kapp is vice president of the MVHS Athletic Boosters Club and parent to a sophomore. The school's sports teams have all been improving, advancing further in the season and participation is up in certain athletic activities, he told the room. "Now the time is right to build school spirit. … What it really comes down to is the students."

However, many in the crowd expressed suspicion that the proposed homecoming game was merely a wedge, intended to move the school toward installing permanent lights -- an action that could lead to the district leasing the field to other teams and an ever-increasing stream of traffic, noise and teens behaving badly in the surrounding community.

Worries of bad behavior, paired with the strong community resistance, seemed to draw exasperation from many of the teens in the room.

One highly vocal man, John Mahlmeister, addressed a group of MVHS seniors directly and told them he doesn't want to be their enemy, andcould even get behind the idea of having one night game each year played under temporary lights that could be wheeled on and off the field -- but concluding by telling the group, "I'm sorry, but you're being used."

Martin VanRyswyk said he feels the Athletic Boosters are trying to pull a quarterback sneak with this proposal. "It's a strategy," VanRyswyk said, recalling that the boosters were "chastised" once already by the MVLA board of trustees for not including the community in their plan for this year's homecoming game. So they are holding a "perfunctory meeting," and hoping they can "ram" the proposal through at the upcoming board meeting, he charged.

"We're not trying to 'ram' anything through," Kapp responded.

The reason his group has been working so rapidly, Kapp said, is that the school year has only recently begun and the boosters simply want the students and the community to be able to rally around the team -- not to mention the cheerleaders, the band and the dance squad who are also slated to perform at the event.

"Neighbors have every right to be concerned. We understand that. They don't necessarily know everything about us, so they don't immediately trust us to be able to put on a game without problems."

Indeed, a handful of residents said they were convinced that above-average attendance would invariably result in above-average traffic, public intoxication, littering and vandalism. And at least two members of the audience said they did not trust the boosters' motives.

The suspicion is that the endgame is to begin hosting nighttime events -- sporting or otherwise -- on a regular basis. One resident who spoke up said that his family and many others understood there would be noise and other disturbances when they moved into the neighborhood. However, he and his neighbors can at least count on things quieting down at night, he said.

"It is my impression that their long-term goal is permanent lights," VanRyswyk said. "And so this is a trial to show the school board that they can pull it off. And it's going to be a show to try and be on the best behavior and make it work and then use that as evidence that is something they can do full time. So, to us, this is more than just one game."

Two students, seniors Mia Guthert and Kate Thomas, said it was upsetting to hear many of the adults in the crowd equate increased teens in the area with increased hooliganism.

Guthert said she understands that living near a high school means living nearer to a hub where there will be teens getting rowdy, but she thinks having one game is not going to send the neighborhood into a downward spiral. "I always think you're going to have troublemakers, but I really don't believe that having night games you're going to see a drastic increase in criminal activity."

Thomas said she and her friends would love to be able to attend a night game at their own school. Right now, she said, there is "no excitement" at the MVHS day games and she would rather go to a game at St. Francis High School, which hosts games at night. Thomas said she finds these events much more fun than sitting in the sun immediately following school on a Friday.

Comments

Tom Spice
Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:34 am
Tom Spice, Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:34 am

Why not just play in the dark?


Cherrytree Tom
Blossom Valley
on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:41 am
Cherrytree Tom, Blossom Valley
on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:41 am

Another example of the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the school. Night football games generate the most income for sports programs. Night games allow more people to see the games. There is a reason why I don't lived next to a high school, one of them being the need to complain about being next to a HS. If you think the few people putting up a fight will stop progress look at the Cuesta Annex...all we have is a large depository for dog poop( but the neighbors are happy!)


Garrett
another community
on Oct 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm
Garrett, another community
on Oct 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Attended MVHS from 1980 to 1983, we did use Foothill for homecoming games. Would be nice for MV along with LAHS to have a home field with LIGHTS, locker room, snack bars. One side of studium can be Blue and Gray while the other side Black and Gold. We all can spend a Friday evening with friends, family and cheer for the home team. Go MVHS.


Mom
Shoreline West
on Oct 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm
Mom, Shoreline West
on Oct 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Didn't MVHS have their homecoming 2 weeks ago?


Waldo
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm
Waldo, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm

MVHS stadium light proponents have failed to adequately plan for safety, security and traffic management, and are hoping that two toilets will be adequate for more than 1,500 people. Until they get their act together, they should continue with night games at Foothill College.


Kristen
Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm
Kristen, Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Friday Night Lights? That's so passe. I don't understand why the students need night football games to create school spirit. They have an amazing Performing Arts group and a beautiful new theater. (Think Glee!) They also have fantastic volleyball and basketball teams. All of these already play at night. Why not rally behind these? Football is a dying sport anyway, given the known permanent harm of concussions.


The Answer Man
Jackson Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm
The Answer Man, Jackson Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Solution: Just buy everyone night vision goggles.


Garrett
another community
on Oct 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm
Garrett, another community
on Oct 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Some of you sound like the kids, the parents, the supporters are going to cause a small crime wave or worst yet. Riot. I worked sercurity at football games, yes there was traffic, yes some noise, yes there was a crowd. Teachers, staff and parents were involed, police were on hand, but don't think we ever had a problem. If yours kids play sports you will know football is a biggie, that theatre brings in high school art and drama supporters. Please build more, add more, all kids need to show off pride.


Bruno
Old Mountain View
on Oct 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm
Bruno, Old Mountain View
on Oct 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm

*If I don't directly participate in something, or fail to understand the reason people enjoy it, then I'm fully against it and will fight it aggressively. Who plays football!?! A bunch of kids who don't appreciate fine art or the joys of yoga, that's who! They should understand that they live in my world, and if I'm not for it then it shouldn't be allowed. After all, this is all about me and my fears of what might become.*


@ Mom
Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm
@ Mom, Cuesta Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm

MVHS split their Homecoming week into 2 this year, as the traditional game against Los Altos High was so early in the year. They did not have time to get the floats together, etc.

So, in Oct, they will have Spartan Week. The parade will happen then, and to add some school spirit, they want to have a night football game.


Spartan mom
Waverly Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm
Spartan mom, Waverly Park
on Oct 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Anyone who buys a home across the street from a high school knows that said school is occupied by a thousand or so kids for 3/4 of the year.

If my understanding of MVLA history is correct, wasn't the school there first?

I was at the MVHS-LAHS night game at Foothill a few weeks ago and there was not a hooligan in sight. Lots of well-behaved, happy, enthusiastic kids, period. And administrators. And parents. No hooligans.

Why don't we just offer season tickets and a $5 snack stand voucher to the neighbors and treat them to a night out?


Michael
another community
on Oct 6, 2012 at 12:24 am
Michael, another community
on Oct 6, 2012 at 12:24 am

MVHS has a football team? Last I saw there were 30 kids on the field and 60 parents in the stands in a losing effort. It's best for everyone if they played in the dark.

This issue and article is a joke.

Harden the *heck* up, Spartan 'ballers! Play for each other, play to win, and the rest will follow.


Spartan Alumni
Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2012 at 9:24 am
Spartan Alumni, Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

If you build it, they will come !!


Spartan Alumni
Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2012 at 9:26 am
Spartan Alumni, Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2012 at 9:26 am

One game a year isn't gonna kill you people. Let them play.


BK
another community
on Oct 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm
BK, another community
on Oct 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I have to side with the neighbors on this one.
They share a fence line with the school noise and traffic are already an issue in the neighborhood.
Those neighbors already put up with early morning and evening Marching Band practice for most of the year


Garrett
another community
on Oct 7, 2012 at 8:55 am
Garrett, another community
on Oct 7, 2012 at 8:55 am

How about planting some fast growing tall trees, first row along fence lines. The next row around the studium, also put some light shields around the lights. Find the right height, the right amount of lights Look and see.


Scott Lamb
Monta Loma
on Oct 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm
Scott Lamb, Monta Loma
on Oct 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I grew up near a high school, and it was normal to hear loudspeaker announcements, marching band performances, and cheering during evening football games (under permanent lights). My family and I never minded. So it's hard for me to imagine why neighbors thought they could "count on things quieting down at night", how these normal Friday evening events and noises would cause neighbors so much trouble, or why MVHS should be restricted more than many, many schools all over the country.

"Neighbors already put up with early morning and evening Marching Band practice for most of the year"? First of all, if it's like my old high school in Iowa, marching band season ends when football season does, so that's not true. Secondly, they aren't trapped. I bought a house recently, so I know that area is absurdly expensive even for Mountain View. Those neighbors won't be hurting if they decide to sell.

Of course, if they do move, they might find their new homes have even more noise. In Monta Loma, I hear train horns. Should I start a campaign to shut down Caltrain? Some people live near fire stations. Should we ban sirens? Some people live near Moffett - should we ban low-flying planes? Or should we just say that you knew (or should have known) what you were getting into, your home's price probably reflected it, and you have to take the bad along with the good - or leave?

Some day I hope to send a child to high school around here (probably LAHS). My child's activities shouldn't be restricted because of a few whiny neighbors. I will vote against any elected representative who gives them the time of day.


Logicist
Blossom Valley
on Oct 8, 2012 at 11:04 am
Logicist, Blossom Valley
on Oct 8, 2012 at 11:04 am

JEEZE! How _few_ games will be played during the entire year? How many hours must the poor poor poor residents actually notice that they bought a home near a high school? SELFISH NIMBYS! Let the kids have their friday night experience. Those memories are some of my best and our kids deserve to be able to look back on them as well.
This absolutely should NOT be up for such debate. Build it and put a box of tissues in the budget for the snivelers. Good lord.


Lew Lee
Cuesta Park
on Oct 8, 2012 at 11:35 am
Lew Lee, Cuesta Park
on Oct 8, 2012 at 11:35 am

Geez folks. This is for the kids. Things get messed up when adults get involved. It's only for one night. Let the kids show us they can handle the responsibility.

Lynbrook High got its field lights this past year. Here's the Merc News article about their lights. Appears to me it was a win-win outcome.
Web Link


A mom
Cuesta Park
on Oct 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm
A mom, Cuesta Park
on Oct 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Why would you purchase a house near a school if you are not expecting there to be traffic, kids, noise and school activities going on? The lights will be there for one evening. There is more traffic on a regular school day than there will be for the football event. This is a very nice neighborhood and you have some of the most well behaved kids in the Mountain View community attending MVHS. You should be proud of that and support the school. If you don't want permanent lights put up on the grounds in the future, I can understand that. This is only for one evening and maybe one evening a year.


Susan
Cuesta Park
on Oct 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm
Susan, Cuesta Park
on Oct 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

These players and students deserve every benefit of a night game. We went to the Milpitas game last week and the entire community including the fire department comes out to support the event. It is not just about playing football under the lights, its a safe environment for the students, parents and community to come together as one. Los Altos HS amd MVHS are a few of the only schools left in the country that do not have a nightime football event. The time for lights have come and the neighbors need to grow up and embrace the school and this community event. There needs to be a balance at the high school between academics, the arts and sports and sports have been put in last place. Limit the hours that the band can play to please the neighbors and give more attention to the sports teams. The results will be more community attention and more funding by donors to the school. Property values will go up as the sports teams improve and more people want to send their children to MVHS-look at Los Gatos as the example.


mikej
Cuesta Park
on Oct 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm
mikej, Cuesta Park
on Oct 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm

spartan mom... School was built in 1961. Many of the homes surrounding have deeds from 1954. So... does your argument still hold?? The school KNEW they were moving into a tightly packed neighborhood so why would they not expect this kind of reaction ??
The logic goes both ways.

Many pro-lights comments here are derogatory and rude "grow up" "selfish nimbys" "if I don't understand it I will fight it". Must be nice to live in a black and white world -- us vs. them. neighbors are just advocating for themselves and have repeatedly gone out of their way to say one night is not a big deal but have been shut out of the conversataton that started many months ago. is this your idea of community?


Garrett
another community
on Oct 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm
Garrett, another community
on Oct 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Friday Night Lights use to happen at old Mountain View HS, their home field is now the site of Eagle Park. Awalt HS might have had night time games if they did the lights were removed back before 1973.


Rugby
Cuernavaca
on Oct 10, 2012 at 10:25 am
Rugby, Cuernavaca
on Oct 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

So the neighbors are afraid of the slippery slope, that if the school has one night game, then they will set up permenent lights and have a whole season of night time games. I agree that is something to worry about. So why not just draw up an agreement that allows the school to have "one night time game per year". Add a clause that states "all field lighting must be used only for the purpose of this one game and no permanent field lights will be permitted". That way the school gets their game and the neighbors have the agreement to calm their worries.


mikej
Cuesta Park
on Oct 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm
mikej, Cuesta Park
on Oct 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Rugby - that would be a great solution that the neighbors would like, but it has not been offered and they were brought into the discussion very late. a lot of animosity and distrust could have been avoided. it was mentioned at the board meeting by someone that the boosters have been talking to other non-school based teams to see if they would use the facility. when asked about this the neighbors don't get "no way.. never.. that is not our goal, dont worry we would be happy to have a contract like that" Instead they get denials that the group is after anything other than a one night event even though they are clearly talking to people about permanent lights. so you can call the neighbors paranoid but dont call them stupid...they are being worked.


the_punnisher
Whisman Station
on Oct 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm
the_punnisher, Whisman Station
on Oct 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm

" If yours kids play sports you will know football is a biggie, that theatre brings in high school art and drama supporters. "

And football brings Athletic Supporters. So what is your point?

I graduated from the ORIGINAL MV Eagles H.S. MV had a jock problem there too. I never was able to excel at P.E. I found out just now that I had an inherited heart condition that could have me literally drop dead on the field. As it was, I almost broke my neck on the trampoline because the MVHS P.E. teacher { coach that was pissed off that I wouldn't go out for football )said your grade depended on it. Most P.E. grades BROUGHT DOWN my GPAs for college.So this graduate is voting NO on giving jocks ( and their Athletic Supporters ) an extra privilege.









"


William Symons
Waverly Park
on Oct 11, 2012 at 8:45 am
William Symons, Waverly Park
on Oct 11, 2012 at 8:45 am

The REST of America has great HS nighttime football, all the communities rallies around these, a part of American tradition. Regardless of what one thinks about football, I think some acceptance and support is the right thing to do. anything that connect the kids to some sense of school pride cant be a bad thing....I find it odd that anyone not even associated with the school would form a stance against this... Selfish NIMBY attitude serves no purpose other than to degrade and alienate the HS community, and the MV community overall.


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