Sportsmanship and respect in politics: How they’re similar

Posted on April 6, 2012 by

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The following article is about kids’ sports and adult behavior. See if you agree that our politicians and media  too often act the same way, with disrespect and incivility. That’s a chief reason why the Congress is dysfunctional and why we think  politicians just don’t it.  Don’t get that acting politely and using compromise are what leads to progress.

The article is reprinted from the Mankato (Minnesota) Free Press website.

By Chad Courrier 04/05/2012 11:25 PM

Last month, the Minnesota State High School League celebrated 100 years of the boys basketball tournament, featuring several athletes and performances that have made this event so special.

But having attended some of the last 30 or so tournaments, there is a disturbing trend that seemed to be more obvious this time.
Lack of respect.

By some of the players, coaches and parents. To the opponents, the referees and the game.

There were countless examples of poor behavior, and it’s understandable that the intensity of the moment might make someone choose poorly. But there were also many incidents that were  not immediate, where the decision to disrespect someone was intentional.

At the end of one Class AAA boys quarterfinal game, the winning team was about to finish a hard-fought, three-point victory. The student sections from both teams screamed across the Williams Arena floor at each other with spirit, often coming up with some pretty slick chants.

But as the game ended, two of the reserves — kids who DIDN’T play — from the winners ran in front of the losing crowd and gave everyone the Aaron Rodgers “belt” gesture, taunting the students. Where was the coach? Where were the team leaders? Where was the class?

And it would be OK if the next player who was caught committing a foul, then looked at the official with hands outstretched and an innocent look on his face, would be benched. Of course, there would be few players left to play the game, but there has to be some harsher penalty for those whiny players.
One player swore at an official, describing the call as something that happens from the south end of the bull about two hours after lunch, and was not disciplined.

At one Class AA girls game, play was getting rough, though no one player was to blame. It was intense, and the girls were playing hard.

But up in the crowd, an adult, presumably a parent, yelled to the court “you get her,” inferring that someone should intentionally take a shot at the opponent. You can see how intense play on the court might lead one player to act out of frustration, but an adult? Parent? Someone who is in no way involved in the action on the court?

And listen to parents question calls made by game officials. Often, they don’t know the rule they’re complaining about.

Coaches feel a lot of pressure at state tournaments, given that many of the community members feel like their teams should win. It’s been a long season, and coaches are often as competitive as the players. It’s become common practice to “work” the officials, hoping that a couple of well-timed hints may lead to a break later in the game.

But coaches have begun to go too far, which of course sets a bad example for the players. There are no high school coaches in Minnesota who are so good at their job that they should constantly criticize officials, who do make mistakes. So do coaches, but you don’t often see the referee try to publicly embarrass the coach.

It was another fantastic tournament season, with several great games and individual performances, but the fear is that poor sportsmanship is becoming a larger issue. There needs to be a change, whether by MSHSL officials or referees or coaches or players, to bring back the fun and entertainment, while losing the disrespect for the game.

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