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Sports commentary: Stepping it up

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Recent bad behavior by parents gets called out for what it is

By Mike Forster

 

Hey, adults:  As the name implies, we're the ones who are supposed to act like the grown-ups around here

I proffer that advice in response to some lame-o behavior I had the misfortune to witness while attending some spring post-season games.

Specifically, I saw two instances of parents threatening to duke it out with other parents while said parents' children were out on the field of play.

I'm not going to provide names here, my feeling being that these individuals embarrassed themselves enough without me helping out.

Still, their actions merit discussion, primarily because a) sports is supposed to be about good sportsmanship and b)  the parents of players should be beacons of light in this area.

The first troubling incident took place when parents of a Bedford County team took issue with how a game official made a call on a play.  These parents used profane language to voice their displeasure.

In fact, they used the kind of language that would have gotten their child tossed by a ref (or pulled by a coach) 99% of the time.

That's bad enough.  But, it gets worse.

One of the parents took issue with the behavior of his contemporaries.  He told them that a) the official made the right call and b) they should refrain from using such language.

You might expect that this measured response would be met with respect and introspection.  You'd be wrong.

It was met with a challenge to a fistfight.

Hmmm.

Wait, it gets worse.  The potential pugilists' children are teammates.  That is, a fight nearly broke out among supposed allies.

Double hmmm.

At another game that same day, I saw two parents of players arguing over who was in the game and why.  Again, the threat of fisticuffs came into the mix.

Again, these are parents whose children are teammates.

I'm certain I don't need to go on a screed here to proselytize the incongruity of demanding gentlemanly (and gentlewomanly) behavior on the field while tolerating its opposite in the stands.

I'm reminded of a story from my first year on the job.  I was covering a football game and a player came off the field, throwing his helmet to the turf in a fit of pique.

An assistant coach pounced, grabbed the player by the jersey and screamed in his face, "Don't you throw your (expletive) helmet!  When you play for this (expletive) team, you act like a (expletive) gentleman!"

I'm no graduate of Emily Post's school, but I rate the coach's etiquette breach far worse than the player's.

But I digress.  Back to last week's troubling tales.

The most interesting (for me) part of what happened is that these are very good teams.  After all, the squads were playing well into the post-season when the would-be fisticuffin' fathers did their thing.

Teams usually go well into the post-season because they have developed camaraderie, trust, an ability to work together and the desire to put team over self.

These are all traits these players have leveraged into successful seasons.  They are all qualities, by the way, that these players can use in serving as role models for others: including for some members of their families.

Starting at the top.

*****

Whether or not we have a county team in the State semifinals or finals, I'd be remiss not to encourage you to swing by the VHSL's Spring Jamboree at Radford University.

It runs this Friday and Saturday, and it includes more top-notch baseball, softball and soccer than a fan deserves.

The good folks at Radford have turned the Jamboree into a smooth-running and most action-packed venue.  You can pay the admission fee of ten bucks and see a steady stream of the best that Virginia's "A" and "AA" levels have to offer.

Best of all is seeing the enthusiasm that comes from watching these student-athletes realize the dream of winning a state championship.

*****

This Saturday, all three high schools will conduct their graduation ceremonies at Liberty University's Vines Center.

I'd like to wish all of the graduating student-athletes I've covered over their preps careers the best of luck as they move on to higher pursuits in life.

Actually, I extend that sentiment to all graduates, athletic or not.  Good luck to you all!