Signs Of The Wreckers

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
(“Signs,” 5 Man Electrical Band, 1971)

Carl Addison Swanson often runs through the back of Staples High School — his alma matter — and the nearby Wakeman Field complex.

He counts 81 signs.

He classifies 15 as notices of past athletic team titles, records and scoreboards; 9 thanking donors to fundraising efforts, and 57 as “instructions” (traffic signs, and those indicating where to sit or stand, informing people they are on camera, and one noting how to behave at a game).

Perhaps, Carl suggests, just one is needed: “We are the Wreckers, and we are going to kick your ass.”

(Photos/Carl Addison Swanson)

18 responses to “Signs Of The Wreckers

  1. The Dude returns‼️👍🏼😂🇺🇸

  2. Michael Calise

    Count the signs at Compo and then read them

  3. Terry Brannigan

    Terrible, I have a sign that my father boosted from Central Park from ths 70’s and it lists all the great things you CAN do in the park. Our situatuion is gross.

    How about the illuminated one parked on the Post Road by the Toyota dealership. It said something along the lines of “Trxt and Get Pulled Over and Get A Fine”. How about… “Please don’t txt and drive, we don’t want anyone to get hurt”.

    We over manage EVERYTHING in my opinion. Thank you Carl Addison for calling his out! I agree with Michael Calise. The signs are so ugly abnd the messages militant.

    At the rate we are going, we can dramatically reduce the number of signs if we simply list the very short list of what you can do!

  4. I blame our talented kids and amazing coaches. If they just could just stop winning all those darn championships we could return to the “good old days” when we taught our kids that real pride was not excelling, but rather “wrecking” another town’s otherwise excellent season. 🙂

  5. Well said, CAS!!

  6. @Jeff Mitchell: The players and coaches do not care a hoot about the signs of recognition and/or instruction. It is the rise of the Booster Clubs which seem determined to micro-manage our every move and/or applaud any good season. They also hold the check book. And I shall remind you, the best athletes out of this area (Bobby Valentine, Calvin Murphy, Steve Young, Brian Claar, etc.) came out of the 60’s-70’s when players were more concerned with having fun in multiple sports than a total focus on getting a Division I ride in one sport. The “good old days” produced some dang good teams including Staples only undefeated football season – state championship, 1976 as well as some premier soccer teams.

    • Jo Ann, last I checked, booster clubs (still) consist of proud parents, coaches are (still) prideful of their teams, kids are (still) playing HS sports for the love of the game, D1 schools (still) don’t recruit based on signage, and the guys you mentioned all (still) have their own signs in their own home towns. But other than that, what you wrote makes perfect sense.

      • Carl Addison Swanson

        Apples and oranges. Booster Clubs have emerged as the financial arm of all sports teams with coaches often at the mercy of their discretion. Coaches used to coach more than one sport and now are intermediaries for their athletes finding scholarship money. There were no private coaches or academies to promote athletes to higher echelons. And most important, we learned the games via “sand lot” games whereby there were no adults around to supervise. We played hard and settled any differences among ourselves. Invaluable experience. P.S. I lived two doors down from Calvin Murphy in greater Houston. No signs for him but for a plaque in Springfield.

        • Hi Carl. In all seriousness, I think what you are saying warrants some serious national attention, let alone here in town. I think Ruth Barrett’s recent Atlantic article should be expanded into a mini series. For example, I can’t fault a parent for spending big bucks on a personal trainer for their kid if they can afford it. But what I can’t stand is a parent feeling obligated to sign their kid up to an expensive club team and then forced to play for them year round “or else” (e.g. their kid won’t get recruited, get into a good college, get a scholarship, etc.). I’m all for booster clubs supplementing the crappy pay HS coaches get, paying for field upgrades, new equipment, etc., but no question the booster club is there to serve the coaching staff, not vice versa. I guess we’ll just call this disparity “signs of the times”, in more ways than one!

          • Carl Addison Swanson

            Booster Clubs and private groups created the mass of signs at Staples. To me, they are indicative of where amateur sports are heading. The United States has thrown boat loads of money at men’s soccer, men’s tennis and marathon running, to name a few, with little world wide acclaim or success. The folks in Norway, breaking gold medal records in the Olympics, do NOT even keep score in youth sports and make sure a would-be athlete is ready to start weight training or other vigorous endurance workouts before his/her body is ready. Their focus is on fun, fun, fun. I don’t see that here. Instead, I see the kid up at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning to play soccer and after 13 years of that, he is burned out.

            • Hi Carl. From my observation, booster clubs, rather, *keep* kids playing their sport for the glory of their school not a random commercialized club. If you truly want to see local kids having fun these days, I suggest you check out a Little League game, rec soccer, any of the many PAL sports, and so forth. Good to hear Norway owns the frozen tundra in the sports world. Here’s hoping they add to their Olympic haul of four bonze medals in Rio from four summers ago.

              • Carl Addison Swanson

                Booster Clubs, in many areas of the country, play an integral part of all the sports teams for, with dwindling budgets, they need the money. Here, that is not true. Not sure Staples footballers need new uniforms every year? Each example you give involves money, adult supervision and parental involvement. The only example I have seen of “pick up” games, with no supervision, is Staples soccer where Professor Woog promotes no private coaches, no camps, fun! My godson played soccer in the Albany area. His coach told his mother that he was such as good dribbler that he was sure to play Division I soccer. He was five years old. No, once you interject money into the sports equation, you muck things up and do not necessarily produce better athletes. You are totally missing the point with Norway.

                • Carl, you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own set of facts. For example, the Westport School Budget, as large and comprehensive as it is, only gives a stipend to the head baseball coach and one assistant. What about the hitting coach, pitching coach, and the two other assistant coaches? How about the JV coach and his assistant? How about the Freshman coach and his assistant? Soccer is similar. Football pays for one more assistant and the Freshman coach (that’s just 4 of 14 listed coaches btw). That’s it. And I presume you can figure out that there are a heck of lot more expenses that need to be covered besides personnel. Or did a misread you and you think the town budget should be expanded to cover all these costs to obviate the need for booster clubs? Source:

                  • Carl Addison Swanson

                    Huh? I never advocated the extinction of Booster Clubs. They serve a very needed function to supplement necessary costs of youth sports’ teams. But when Booster Clubs hold the reins to the team, the coach and the administration by determining who plays, where the money shall go and even who the new coach may be, they have crossed the line. And IMO, the arcade of signs, basically promulgating how special the teams and patrons are, they have crossed the line. I made my point perfectly clear through a consistency of comments to that effect while you seem to be all over the map with tangential non-issues.

  7. Carl, just curious: did the Staples soccer storage shed with the board listing the 27 FCIAC titles and 12 state titles qualify as a sign in your count of 81? Thanks.

  8. Carl Addison Swanson

    No, Fred, my count only included signs along my running route which was limited to the signs on the school and along the parking lot above the baseball/soccer/field hockey fields as well as the flood of traffic signs along the Wakeman road. I was on a FCIAC soccer and golf champion teams, I have no idea what Jeff Mitchel is talking about? The sports culture of our time certainly strove for championships rather than any mindset of merely being a spoiler. Plus we played for fun, not recognition or scholarships.

    • For clarity, I was making light of the origin of the Wrecker name (i.e. taking pride in “wrecking” a neighboring town’s perfect season) which I felt was somewhat ironic when trying to conjure up images of a glorious history of unheralded accomplishments. I guess in 2020 hindsight, I should have steered clear of a cheesy pun that may have grated a few readers. No question Staples has a heralded sports history no matter how you slice it.

    • Side note: The official address for Norwalk High School is “Calvin Murphy Drive” (off County Street, a continuation of Westport’s Kings Highway South).