bill-swift - April 10, 2012
The New Orleans Saints and Bountygate have hogged the sports headlines lately; the world loves a good controversy after all. As the world chimes in with their two-cents about the scandal the real problem is being completely ignored.
It has nothing to do with injuries or encouraging players to inflict injuries on others. It's the death (or near death) of sportsmanship.
Athletes like to state all the time that they are not trying to be role models; they are just trying to play whatever they play and be true to themselves. That may help them sleep at night, but it doesn't hide the fact that they are role models whether they like it or not. What they do resonates across all levels of sports, both good and especially the bad.
Proof of this is all over the internet. You have the above example involving Yavapai Community College and Scottsdale Community College that just doesn't make sense. It would be interesting to hear why the kid from Yavapai just nailed someone from behind that was not involved in the other altercation. The word is that the guilty player has been suspended, but for how long is a mystery.
Then there's the brawl between a pair of junior varsity team in North Carolina (Yuba City and Del Camp High). The videos on YouTube are pretty poor and don't catch the inciting incident—the Yuba City pitcher turning, throwing at the opposing team's first base coach, and then charging him. Both benches cleared and the brawl ensued.
Two things are particularly disturbing about the incident. The coach was making derogatory comments to the dugout and the pitcher, supposedly all game long (the fight was in the sixth inning). What's worse is that the parent of one team can be heard in the video yelling racial slurs and comments to the other team.
The above examples are both involving baseball, but that's just because the sport is in season. There is no shortage of these kinds of incidents each and every year at every level of the game—professional down to high school and even youth league.
Parents have their kids join sports leagues to learn the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship. They have their kids continue to do it because those are life lessons that are vital to success at every stage of life. Of course if the parents are failing at home like in the Yuba City video…
The teachers are the coaches that teach these kids and the players they emulate. With examples like the aforementioned and the almighty dollar ruling the professional and college game the lessons are being lost. What's to say that the pressure to succeed at all costs didn't lead to Stephen Gant's suicide recently (Gant was set to pitch at Vanderbilt and was expected to be a first round draft pick in the amateur draft).
Luckily, all is not lost. There are still many that do realize how important sportsmanship is, and that the game (any game) is supposed to be one thing and one thing only—fun. Just check out the Southern Miss and Ole Miss guys waiting out a rain delay.
Article by Travis Pulver
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