By Ben Palmer
It’s almost impossible to attend Lane and not know the name Max Schneider, especially after a school-wide holiday named in his honor. But I worry that people don’t see the meaning of the holiday, or the sometimes brutal reality behind Schneider’s title of State Wrestling Champion.
Max Schneider day, observed on May 20th, came under fire from some who saw it as an over-glorification of shallow morals.
I can understand why the day of celebration was taken as a joke by many, considering it was a showcase of strength. But when CPS is going through budget cuts, program cuts, and soon, teacher cuts, what better way to unite than around a hero? Max Schneider was that hero, and for this reason I feel his holiday was rightly put in place.
I don’t say this because I want to get in his good graces, or because I don’t want to get pummeled in a bathroom by jocks. I say it because I’ve seen Max outside the limelight.
I spent time getting to know him in Italian class last year, and I suspect much of the anti-Max-Schneider-Day sentiment may root from not knowing much about the day’s hero.
He’s actually a decent human being under all the muscles and fame. And it may come as a surprise, but he can cook! I monopolized his home-made gnocchi in Italian last year, eating most of it myself. Oops.
I recall him not eating much of the various Italian foods us students had prepared. But then again he never ate much more than a thermos of soup once a day, it seemed. I assume this was a part of his wrestling diet.
This is a noticeable toll of the student athlete: demands on the body. Having my food intake not include my favorite things would put me in a deep chocolateless funk. Also, I do not know if his in-school fame is enough now, but I do know that last year Max needed a pass to be late to classes due to back problems. I remember asking myself, ‘Is his wrestling more important than his education?’ The existence of Max Schneider Day, the celebration of an athlete and not a student, seems to say yes to that question.
On that front, I’ve seen Max around in an arm sling these past couple weeks, including on his birthday. With injuries abound, is it right to be celebrating his victory? Maybe it is, considering he is set to represent the U.S. (and Lane for that matter) in the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore this August. From in-school celebrity to international athlete. How many of us can say we’ve done something like that?
So here’s the thing: he makes sacrifices and has a talent, and reaps the benefits. Why do people dislike him or his holiday? The same reason people hate Rachel Ray! It’s BECAUSE they’re good at what they do, and are able to not totally lose themselves in the fame. I’m sure all this has gotten to his head in some way or another, but he’s retained his humanity. For that matter, so has Rachel Ray.
“Alright, this is all fine and good,” says the persistent student, “but Max Schneider isn’t the only champion at Lane!”
Good point, generic student! And not only athletes are winning big competitions. The Warrior’s own Safiya Merchant won first place in the state journalism competition, and Hana Rickert and Ricardo Vicencio won the CPS Drama Competition. Do they all have holidays or T-shirts? No. Although Lane always honors them with at least a mention in morning announcements. Is that fair? Probably not, but it’s the harsh reality of high school.
Watching Max Schneider rise from a student to a wrestling champion must be what it’s like to watch a star form. The raw power and strength are so magnetic, and it’s understandable that some would want it for themselves, leading to some jealousy. Maybe this is the true seed of the anti-Max Schneider Day mindset.
That negativity is not helping in this already turbulent environment. As if high school wasn’t a crazy place already, throwing in “celebrities” like Max Schneider is the cherry on top of the whole tormented cake. This cherry is innocent though, I promise.