The ugly side of sports

sports

I have loved sports my entire life. As a child, I loved playing soccer on the banks of the Mississippi River in the Quinsippi Soccer League. Playing basketball at the YMCA. Learning golf and tennis by playing with my brothers and father. Growing up in a rural area, high school sports were king. While in grade school, my father purchased season tickets to watch the Quincy High School Blue Devils Basketball team. I enjoyed cheering on the team with the community as they annually competed for a state championship in the 1980s.

Now as an adult. I love watching my children compete in the fields and on the courts. Watching them grow as players and develop news skills fills my heart with pride while bring back fond memories of my childhood. I have even had the pleasure of coaching my kids in basketball.

Gavin basketball team 2nd grade
Me coaching some Gavin’s team (tall one) 

Lately I have noticed that there is an ugly side to sports. It has always been there but I had chosen to focus my efforts and attention to all the positives sports bring to the table. I can’t stop ignoring this negative side, I see it impacting so many youth today.

From fans to parents to coaches to players negativity is shown. Fans are rabid promoting fierce rivalries. Some act like a high games outcome is vital for their existence.  Parents scream and shout wanting more playing time for THEIR kid that can do no wrong.  Coaches push kids to their to the limits running up scores often leaving some players discouraged due to little or no playing time. How will they get better if they get no game action? Players mimic the professionals, flexing muscles and taunting the other team on every good play even when loosing a game.

Two recent local high school stories keep sticking in my head. First was has football upset where Dakota HS out played Chippewa Valley HS. It was a game that Dakota could be proud of defeating a team that had dominated them recently. In celebration a father decided to burn his varsity Chippewa jacket upon the return to their home school. Once it hit social media, well it wasn’t pretty. Here is the media coverage. Second happened last week when Almont played Denby in the state semi-finals. After the game was called, racial slurs flew and the police were called. We can’t have this in sports at any level!! It is causing a shortage on referees.  Who would want to be a referee if many don’t respect their calls?

It needs to start at the professional level. Sportsmanship needs to be modeled and expected. Players have to stop arguing with the referees, Coaches too. I tell my players that they aren’t allowed to talk to the referee, that is the coaches job. The leagues need to reclaim their games before it gets out of control.

I loved a recent presentation from my son’s school Athletic Director. He shared that student athletes shared that their grandparents are their favorite fans. Why? Because they love how they played NO matter WHAT. Time to refocus game days. Make them for KIDS again! #gamedaysareforkids