Sports commentary: Role models

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These are not the examples we want to set

By Mike Forster

 Being well-rested from my vacation, I should be in a great mood.  

The fact that I didn’t return from the beach bearing any resemblance to a bronzed god, however, has given me a case of the grumps.

So, here’s my rant.

My father sent me a clipping the other day.  For you modern types, people used to use scissors to cut items out of “newspapers” and send them through the “U.S. Mail.”

My dad still does such things.  No email, no texts, no postings to Facebook walls.  Nice and quaint.

Anyway, this clipping mentioned that a kid had been suspended in Florida.  Seems he plays for a high school football team down there.  In the heat of the moment, he signaled an obscene gesture toward a ref.  The gesture was captured on ESPN, which was televising the game.

As a result of his indiscretion, he was suspended for two games.

His loyal teammates decided that they, too, would sit out the games.  Leading the protest:  the team’s coach.

That’s the opposite of quaint, in my book.

Another:  I heard some local DJs the other morning, discussing a pee-wee football game in the Houston area. 

Seems a couple of the kids started fighting.  The coaches stepped in and started duking it out themselves. 

As a result of the melee, both teams were banned from post-season play.

The DJs were appalled at the severity of the punishment, thinking that being denied a chance at the greater Houston-area pee-wee football crown was too steep a price to pay for rioting.

I bring up these two examples so that I can ask a simple question:  What in tarnation is going on here?

Does that Florida coach view himself as some kind of modern Gandhi?

Do those pee-wee players in Houston bear some resemblance to the martyrs of Masada that I am, somehow, missing?

Since taking this job, I’ve witnessed, firsthand, what coaches have to endure.

Consequently, I’ve stated many times that I could not do what they do.

I would simply never take on a coaching position.

At any level.

So, yes, it is somewhat hypocritical of me to weigh in on these two situations.

As it is written, judge not lest ye be judged.  

All, well and good, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be judged regardless.  So I might as well fire away here.

First, why is ESPN carrying high school games?  Are not 30, or so, college games on a Saturday not enough?

And the Sunday NFL slate is pretty darn full, too.

Do we really need high school gridiron on the tube?

Second, who on earth is watching these televised preps games (besides the players’ grandparents)?

Third, I’m as willing as the next guy to take up the good fight, but:

a) I refuse to engage in fisticuffs with pee-wee coaches.  B-Team, sure.  JV?  Bring ‘em on.  But, I draw the line at the pee-wees.

b) I refuse to fall on my sword for a high school kid who gives the finger to a ref.

The elephant in the room on this one is:  What are these kids being taught?  Nothing.

If that Houston  team’s punishment is upheld, I can assure you that NONE of those kids will ever get into a fight during a game again.  Ever.

If the Florida kid with the trigger-happy digit is kept in the doghouse, it’s fairly likely he’ll watch his p’s and q’s going forward.

It is one thing for a kid to do something stupid.  That’s expected.

But when the consequences of their stupidity are challenged by their very own authority figures, the message gets muddled, at best.

At worst, a clear message is sent:  Do what you want, and I’ll take care of you.

People, myself included, always justify the existence of youth sports by pointing to their maturing benefit.

As we lose our way in so many areas, let’s not also lose sight of that here.