Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Be a good sport!

Good grief, yet another excuse as to why I don't post as often as I should. Let's see what should I say this time.......I know, I've been so busy responding to other people's blogs that I haven't had time to write any of my own. And it's actually a true statement. I think responding and commenting on other people's blogs is quite a bit more entertaining than trying to come up with something that anyone out there in cyberspace considers worthy reading material. Try it sometime by commenting on one of my worthless pieces of drivel. Especially if you've yet to take the plunge and create your own blog you can post comments on my anonymously so I won't even have the pleasure of knowing who are.

But I digress, if you've read any of my other posts you know this is one of my shortcomings. I start off on one topic which leads to another and another and goodness, there I go again. Back to topic. My daughter's volleyball season has just gotten over and my son's basketball season has just started and I felt driven to post something on sportsmanship.

I absolutely love watching team sports. The reason I love watching is because I am notoriously inept at any kind of athletic activity. I have been since 3rd grade. I have experienced the humiliation of being among the last children picked to be on someones team. I have experienced the stress of having every kickball, every baseball, softball, and volleyball sent my direction by the opposing team because they knew there was a better than even (actually much better) chance I was going to screw things up. It's a great thing, actually I would say a great God-given thing that I discovered a talent in music or I probably would have been developing all sorts of inferiority issues before the 7th grade. But I'll save that for a future blog.

I do love to watch sporting events of most any type. I've been to my brother's and sister's soccer and hockey games, and now have the pleasure of watching my son and daughter try their skills at various activities. I've seen good and not-so-good players, coaches, and referees, but the group I need to pick on continues to be the parents. Please don't misunderstand, most parents are great! They cheer on their kids, their team, they even go so far as to appreciate when the opposing team has made a good play. But it is the small handful of shall we say, "over exuberant" parents that really ruin the game for all spectators within ear shot.

Thankfully I've never had to witness any violence like that which has been reported in other states, but I've had to listen to more than my fair share of verbal abuse, not directed at me, necessarily, but having to listen to it directed at others is abuse in my book as well. I've listened to parents yell at coaches, referees, and what hurts the most is listening to them put down their own kids as well as the children of others.

First, please remember these are children, not paid professionals, the whole point of grade school sporting activities is to learn the skills, improve their skills, and HAVE FUN! Being shouted at by the "armchair" quarterbacks in the stands is not my idea of having fun. It's always frustrating when your team is not doing well, but there is absolutely no excuse for chewing out your kids in that manner, in front of their friends, teammates, and everyone else who is watching. It's ONLY A GAME!

Second, I think it takes real nerve for some parents to have scathing criticisms when they aren't the ones out on the field, arena, or court. When I hear some parent shooting off their mouth I'd like to throw them on the volleyball court and see how good they are at returning a spike from the opposite side. Just like at home, we like to sit in our easy chairs yelling at the TV about athletes or officials who for whatever reason don't live up to the standards we impose on them. I really enjoy an old native American proverb, "never judge someone until you have walked a mile in their moccasins." I first heard this in 7th grade during my first experience at bible camp. What right have we to criticize anyone until we have actually been in their shoes for a time? I would argue even then we really still do not have the right to judge anyone....ever.

Mandan parks and recreation had a poster on display last year. I haven't seen it yet this year but I wish they'd bring it back. I'm sure it was targeted at these "over-exuberant" parents I'm talking about. I can't remember it word for word but it goes something like this. Parks and recreation activities are designed to teach children skills and encourage and promote good sportsmanship. Please let the children play, let the coaches coach, let the referees officiate, & above all, have fun. Sounds like pretty good advice.

We can practice good sportsmanship outside of athletic competitions as well. Letting someone into a busy traffic lane. Holding the door open. Saying please and thank you. Being kind and considerate to others. All of these are ways we can be good sports even outside the arena.

Come on, be a good sport!


Steve at Random said...

Ar Em, In a previous life, in a land far, far, away, I was a coach for my son's Little League teams in Mandan. Now what would pocess an otherwise sane individual to coal a Little League team? Oh yeah, because if there weren't volunteer coaches there wouldn't be teams and if there weren't teams there wouldn't be opportunities for boys and girls to play sports. That's the reason we volunteer, not because we think we have some God-given talent to rise from the ranks of Little League to someday coach the New York Yankeees! So you can imagine my consternation when I had to deal with irate parents and grandparents -- yes, grandparents -- who swore at me because of some idiotic coaching decision that I made. One time I held up the play of a game because I wouldn't let another pitch be thrown until a red-faced, overweight grandpa either got into his car or drove away. But I wasn't going to let him continue to sit in the stands behind home plate berate me because of some minor infraction that to him seemed such a huge injustice. Basically, my philosophy was to let the children get rid of their pent-up energy. However, in retrospect, I do have a lot of great memories from my days of coaching because I saw many of these players blossom into excellent athletes as their bodies and minds matured. My hope is that the words of encouragement I shared as their coach somehow fueled them toward achieving their maximum potential.

randymeiss said...

I subbed for Brianna's soccer coach a few years back and thankfully had great parents and kids and coach of the opposing team. I've always wanted to coach but our schedules have never made that possible. I make a point of personally thanking and shaking the hand of every coach at the end of every season. They are volunteers and have to donate their time and put up with a lot of frustration. I applaud and appreciate their efforts!

Lisa Grace said...

I have had the opportunity to attend many athletic events for our youth group kids. I love nothing better than sitting at a summer evening baseball game cheering on our youth and spending time with friends. I have had the opportunity to witness some amazing young talent. I have also had the displeasure of watching spectators, parents and relatives berate teenage umpires who are still trying to earn some extra money. I have been very impressed with their unflustered, patient explanation of their call to a disgruntled member of the crowd. When the explanation was not sufficient, the umpire looked back at the youth up at bat and said, "let's just play some ball". Isn't that just the point?

Ar Vee said...

I go to every game with as neutral a bias as possible for a hockey dad.I don't scream at players,I clap at the end of each period,no-matter who's winning,but I have a little different perspective.The kids on my sons team are 11 and 12 years old.Pee-Wees,full contact hockey,and yet there are some kids on this team who have just started skating and never played hockey.For saftey alone,I don't think these novice players should be Pee Wee players.The coaches here pick three teams,With a must win mind set.The first two teams picked take all the best players.The team my son is on are the culls from the age group.The parents of the kids on my sons team can't understand why the three teams weren't divided more equally,nor can I.I feel it's decided over cocktails in some plush lounge.I am not alone in that thought.My son is really good,and the team captain;but our goalie is great and the only thing keeping him off the best team is he wasn't the coaches son;the coaches son got that job.Let me put our goalie's job in perspective he stopped 80, yes 80, shots in one game.My sons team had a total of 12 shots on goal,or at the other goalie you might say,in the entire game.It's lopsided thanks to the big egos of two coaches.Also with an unexperienced team the parents depend on the referees to be impartial.I only ask for fairness and don't go to the game to watch a ref become part of the outcome.The reason people yell at refs,is they stand as far away as possible.If you want to be heard you have to yell.Believe me,in hockey you want to be heard if someone could become injured.I went to state basketball tourneys for years,as a neutral spectator,and sat near the floor.Once I ask a ref in a quiet voice,"can't you see how red the centers elbows are?"From then on the ref called fouls on the center for "elbowing".Picture this,Your watching center ice at the puck drop.One boy is a head taller than the other at the face off.When the puck is dropped the bigger of the two boys spreads his hands on the stick and centers the stick on the smaller boys neck in a punching motion.He missed the exposed part of the neck by inches but still knock the smaller boy back three steps.Everyone saw it BUT THE REFS DID NOTHING.In hockey that's a foul,cross checking!My side of the crowd came unglued.This happened last weekend.We have three young ladies on our team.For all we knew it could have been one of them.I hate to say it,but that is average from where I sit and it makes me Ponder the sportsmanship of the coaches and the referees.

randymeiss said...

Ar Vee, I've sat through many hockey games and witnessed all the events you describe. I think Pee Wee hockey is much the same all over. Of all the sports I'm sorry to say hockey parents are the worst in the "loud and obnoxious" category. Like I said, I've seen good and horrible examples of coaching and officiating and I've done more than my share of yelling. I went to every one of my daughter's volleyball games and for the most part I was very impressed with the referees. They all did what I thought was a fair and unbiased job. But there was one match at Simile Middle School where the ref was so blatantly biased we went from frustrated, to angry, until by the end of the 3 games we were laughing out right because it was so obvious. She made our team serve again because "her" team wasn't ready. Never once have I ever witnessed a "do-over". The whistle blows, the ball is served, if the other team isn't ready that's just too bad. And saying that a ball was in when it was obviously out and on and on. Still, as frustrating as it can be. Yelling at the coaches or officials accomplishes very little if anything at all.

Ar Vee said...

You're probably right Randy,but it makes me wonder what happened to their consience.I would hope he,the ref,would go home and say to his wife,Maybe I should have said something when that boy tried to kill his opponent.Even if he,the ref,was day-dreaming he might think,"Wow I wonder why those people got so mad"I better start watching.I would also hope the parents of the bigger boy would correct his actions.When I started watching hockey,some 26 years ago,the refs skated onto the ice before the players came out.They would be greeted by the fans' Boos and the organ would break into "The three blind mice"song.It wasn't intended to be hurtful.It was part of the entertainment.It was fun!Last weekend I was ready to throw in the towel.It was no longer fun.Forgive and forget.This weekend I'll drive about 14 hours to and from Whitefish for a couple hockey games.My hope is the refs are fair and they won't let anyone get hurt.I know the odds are stacked against us,and this fan will be quiet this week!Just to comply with the good folks on this blog.