The Press Box For Sept. 27
The past couple weeks, I have watched three lopsided football games, I couldn’t help but think of the safety of the undersized, out manned, injury vulnerable players who were taking a beating play after play. Although I didn’t witness any serious injuries, I was shocked at how excited some of the fans and spectators were each time a hard hit was delivered on one of these athletes. It was almost like a movie where the crowd cheer’s profusely as an opponent is severely beaten in a fight to the finish.
Two of the games I watched were high school games, where there wasn’t any compassion. The other was a major college game where the score was lopsided but the home team pulled the starters early in the second half.
As I watched with dismay at the lack of sympathy for the opposition, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of example is being set for our young folks. I couldn’t help but wonder why we are even allowed to put kids through this kind of punishment. I couldn’t help but wonder how we can even get any enjoyment out of such a monstrosity.
Sure everyone enjoys a big play, and the excitement that comes when an athlete takes the kickoff 99 yards to the house untouched. Or when the defense returns an interception for a touchdown. We all enjoy a nice clean sack on the quarterback or a fumble recovery to stop a scoring drive. Those are the things that make the game fascinating, it’s what’s worth cheering for.
Good clean plays where there is hard hitting and no intentional unsportsmanlike action makes a game worth attending. However, some people seem to thrive on illegal foul play. Many even encourage it!
I noticed a sign the other day hanging from a local residence that seemed to encouraged violence. It might be that no harm was intended but the message was clear. Rip someone?
Every time a hard hit is delivered and a player goes down, you can hear the cheers. When he fails to get up and the trainers come out you can hear a pin drop. What’s that all about? Really now, it’s shows your true colors.
It’s alright as long as he gets up, no harm done! But, if he stays down everyone is quiet hoping all is well? When he gets up, even if it’s with a limp or an apparent concussion, the cheers go back up and it’s back to the action. It’s alright if they get hurt, just not to seriously and if they do well it’s just a shame.
I got an email the other day from an irate mother who claimed her son (a reserve player) was treated unfairly because he was told to take a knee instead of allowing him the opportunity to score, even though they had a 45 point lead with the ball on the three yard line and 12 seconds to play.
I never answered the email but I will tell her now. That was good coaching and great sportsmanship. The same scenario occurred last year at a high school football game in Michigan, the player was allowed and encouraged to get another score. When the reserve quarterback went in for the TD, the opposing teams first unit hit him hard breaking two bones in his neck. Yes, he scored to the thrill of some “rub-it-in” fans, but the end result meant he would never play again.
Football can be a fun game for all to enjoy. It can be a safe game and as parents, fans and coaches we need to set examples for our kids and athletes to follow. Running the score up on out manned teams and getting a trill out of it is senseless.
Just this past week after a tough, hard hitting game, I witnessed players from opposing teams shaking hands and congratulating each other. I also heard a parent make a comment that if are boys would have taken the legs out of a certain player, we would have won. The real answer to that is, you would have been a big time loser!
Nothing beats a good old fashion, hard fought, clean played, well officiated, good sportsmanship high school football game, where tensions run high but when all is said and done both teams are satisfied they played as well as they could and the best team on that particular day won.
I even saw a facebook post a couple weeks ago from a so called fan that said, “we were out coached”. I watched that game, and that was not the case. One team made a couple plays that decided the game. It was not a matter of coaching errors or mistakes. It had nothing to do with one coach out coaching another. The game was decided on the field by three big plays, two which went for scores.
Another week of football is upon us. I am sure there will be one of two teams who have yet to win a game that will get that win this week. There will also be one of two teams who are in the fight for the playoffs that will knock the other out of a berth. Week six is upon us, play with all you have, coach as well as you know how, practice good sportsmanship and keep it clean. firstname.lastname@example.org