Time to bring sportsmanship back to sports
What is going on at amateur athletic events nowadays?
I have sat on the sideline, at scorer’s table, under the basket, near the benches and in the crowd quite frequently this school year and I have been blown away with the amount of disdain and coarseness that parents and fans direct towards the people on the court or field.
When did it become acceptable to harass and ridicule someone you don’t know or hardly know based on something as inconsequential as a judgment call during a high school basketball game?
Trust me, the referees are not purposely throwing the game in favor of one team or the other. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum.
Along those lines, don’t you think that the person standing just a few feet from the play (and also gets paid to know the rules and make the calls) has a better view of what happened than you, sitting in the stands a much greater distance away?
The funniest part is that more often than not, when someone screams at an official about a call (or lack of a call), the screamer has zero understanding of the particular rule that pertains to the play.
Who’s the bonehead now?
It’s always the team that’s losing that thinks it’s getting shafted by the referees, as if he or she had something to do with it.
I’m not saying the officials are perfect because by all means they are far from it. I have made more than my share of mistakes when I was working high school games. That’s not the point. They are doing their best and frankly, some games are harder than others to referee.
There is simply no need to personally attack an official or question his or her judgment. Until you’ve worked a game, especially an intense one, you should not say a word. Even if you have been a referee, know your place.
How about appreciating the fine work and athleticism that is on display by the players on the court? Let’s hear comments about that.
Sadly, the embarrassment of sports fans doesn’t just involve the white and black stripes. Often times the players themselves are targeted by the “responsible” spectators who feel the need to get involved in childish antics.
It’s quite disturbing, actually.
Seriously. When a 40-something-year-old is chanting “air ball” at a 16-year-old, there are some serious issues with sportsmanship, maturity and general decency.
It’s one thing for peers to chant it while the students’ team is playing a rival, but adults should never join in.
What kind of example are we setting?
Speaking of examples, coaches are just below parents and teachers on the hierarchy of role models for kids. Certainly that means they should be showing their athletes the way to behave in the middle of a heated contest.
Unfortunately that’s not always the case.
I was at a basketball game at Pocatello High School sometime in the recent past. It was a physical match up and a lot of fouls were called while other types of contact were allowed. After the game was over, the visiting head coach was screaming something along the lines of “that was the worst officiating I have seen in my 15 years of coaching!”
No wonder his players and that team’s fans were whiny and upset the whole game. Their coach was the ring leader.
Coaches, players and parents/fans may not recognize it, but the way a coach carries him or herself is echoed by the athletes and spectators in the stands.
Don’t believe me? Go to a game where you don’t have a dog in the fight and see for yourself.
I was refereeing in Hagerman a couple of years ago. It was a close contest and with the bleachers full, the energy was high. One coach didn’t like the way my partner and I were calling the contest and let us know about it early and often.
Finally, my partner gave him a technical foul. He administered it to the scorer’s table and went to the other side of the court to distance himself from the extremely upset coach, which is what officials are taught to do.
The coach went berserk and turned around and smacked the wooden scorer’s table (which was high up in the stands at this school, almost like a pulpit). I don’t know how he didn’t break a bone.
He also let out a few choice words and personal insults towards my partner, which warranted me to give him a second technical foul. He was ejected from the game (and would have to sit out the next game per NFHS guidelines), but not before he went on a tirade of curse words, physical violence towards the chairs at his bench and obscene gestures towards us.
What an example, right?
If I was a parent of a player on that team or a spectator, I would be embarrassed. What a disgraceful display. My kid would not be playing for that man again.
All I’m trying to say is that sportsmanship and responsibility among adults seems to be left outside of the gym when grown-ups walk in. That should not be the case.
It’s a sad state of affairs when teenagers are conducting themselves at a more mature level than their parents.
Next time we go to a sporting event, let’s take a moment to consider what’s really at stake. Is it going to affect you one or the other in the long run if your kid’s team loses or wins?
Let’s cheer on the athletes for all that they accomplish and make the game a positive experience for everyone involved.