This Prom Date Draft Is Everything Wrong With Kids

Well, for anyone who thought that prom wasn’t supposed to be a competitive sport (that would be me), apparently we’re wrong: A bunch of students who attend Newport Beach, California's Corona del Mar High School held an NFL-style “prom draft” to pick their prom dates this year. In the words of Bye Bye Birdie, "Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!"

According to the L.A. Times, a group calling itself the 2014 Corona del Mar Senior Prom Draft Committee rented a venue, dressed up in their Sunday best, and gave themselves two minutes each to select a prom date. The draft attracted about 40 male students, a mix of juniors and seniors; the seniors used a ball roller to pick their numbers, while the juniors drew numbered pieces of paper. Once those numbers had been chosen, they took their pick of the girls in order. Apparently all is fair in love and prom, too, because word on the street has it that one junior even paid the “committee” $140 to move himself up the draft board.

A letter the Draft Committee wrote to the Times claimed the whole thing was “about camaraderie,” a “fun thing to do with the guys” that also avoids any fights breaking out about who gets to ask who to the prom. Unfortunately, though, they failed to realize that the whole thing is creepy, sexist, and a wide variety of other things that no self-respecting human being would want to be. It doesn’t look like any of them considered that the possibility that even if they “work it out amongst themselves,” the girls still get a say in who they say yes or no to. They could even — gasp! — do the asking themselves if they feel like it. Although weirdly, the girls seem mostly to be complaining about the number of sophomores who were picked as dates over upperclass(wo)men. There are so many cans of worms here I'm not even sure which one to deal with first.

Corona del Mar’s principal, Kathy Scott, did eventually get wind of the draft — which, by the way, seems to have been an ongoing tradition, not just a one-time event. Principal Scott sent a letter to parents on Friday informing them of the draft. “I am sure that the intention of this ‘draft’ is not to be harmful, but it may be. It is not OK for any student to be objectified and judged in any way,” she wrote, according to KTLA5. She’s urging the parents to talk to their kids about why a “prom draft” is just about the worst idea in the history of really bad ideas; hopefully they will, and hopefully the kids will listen to them — although to be honest, I’m not sure if they will. I imagine it going something like this:

As for that junior who paid his way up the chain? Newport-Mesa Unified Trustee Katrina Foley thinks that kid in particular draws attention to a bigger problem. “They probably believe it’s not offensive or objectionable and that’s part of the problem,” she said to the Times. “A lot of this stuff comes back to wealth and being responsible with that wealth.” And that’s not just an idle observation; consider, too, that Corona del Mar High School expelled 11 students for cheating back in January. And we’re not talking “Teacher, teacher! Jimmy looked at my paper during the math test!” cheating, either — the kids hacked into the school’s computers to change their grades and test results, allegedly with the help of a private tutor. Yikes.

As Julia Sonenshein at The Gloss points out, prom is clearly a significantly different beast now than it was back when a lot of us were in high school. She's right; but I don’t know. It’s still weird to me. Heck, my high school didn’t even technically have a prom — we were way too small for individual class proms, so each year, we just had a school-wide formal. Obviously we all still had some anxiety over it, but I and a lot of my friends went stag all four years, and we were probably better off having done it that way, anyway. At least we didn’t have to worry about being drafted as dates or about ridiculous and embarrassing promposals right?