From The World Of Parks & Recreation
By Doug Comer
More than a decade ago, I wrote a letter to the editor displaying my concern with sportsmanship in high school sports. Not among the players who we come to see, but the parents who pay top dollar ($3 to $5 dollars) and feel entitled to not only shout their praise, but in most cases, their displeasure.
I am not saying that all parents practice this type of emotion, but there is always that one apple that spoils the bunch. I referee basketball during the winter months and it appears that my stripes must hypnotize the crowds into a zone where they feel free to criticize. For some, these paying patrons can be equated to a combination of Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay and Bill O’Reilly. You know that one person that wears shorts in the dead of winter with a Jordan t-shirt and his hat turned around backwards. I’m sure you have seen….I mean heard him (or her).
Again, this is not criticizing people who come to the games and question calls. That is a part of the game, but when it becomes belligerent enough that disrupts the game and affects the players, then it is taken too far.
Unfortunately, this epidemic seems to start at the beginning ranks with Jerry West, Grasshopper and Y-ball and even with our HCPR leagues. We must remember that these leagues were formed to expose kids to the game of basketball. Let them learn some basic fundamentals and let the kids decide if they want to pursue this great game into the middle and later high school levels. In summary, it’s the ground floor of a child’s basketball career.
Back to my letter to the editor, there was a rival game in which two highly talented teams battled for tops in the County. And it was a hard fought game that was decided at the buzzer. During the game, there was a lot of bumping and sometimes the fouls were a little aggressive, but each team showed the utmost respect for one another. They helped each other off the floor and they slapped hands to show that while it’s a competition, they are still friends.
Parents are the ones who are getting a little excited during these venues even though they really have no skin in the game. It’s the negativity that is disrupting and sometimes embarrassing the players on the court. It has happened to some degree at every game that I have done this season. That is, until this past week.
I received the opportunity to referee for a girl’s high school sectional game this past week in Moorefield, WV. For those, who do not exactly know how to get there, it is roughly a 2 hour drive from Morgantown. And the opposing team was the WV School of the Blind and Deaf.
By watching the warm-ups, it appeared that Moorefield would have no problem beating the Lady Lions squad that consisted of 6 players with hearing disabilities. But, I had no idea what would happen in the next 32 minutes of basketball.
The host team would use their depth and speed to jump out on the hosts to a 14-0 lead mid-way through the first quarter of play. While Moorefield stayed back and played a tight zone defense, the visitors ran a couple of simple offensive sets and finally scored with a minute to go in the first quarter on a rebound up-and-in.
As you would figure, the game was won by Moorefield, who was the #3 seed in the sectional tournament. But, all fans in attendance were very positive in cheering for both squads. It was like a Rocky movie where the fans swayed to Balboa’s corner as the fight went along. It was something that I have never been a part of, yet I will never forget the sportsmanship by not only the players, but the fans in attendance.
Just like the sign says at Liberty High School – Sportsmanship, let the bug bite you.