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The Press Box For July 1

By Staff | Jul 1, 2020

Every school has one; every community has one, and just about every team has one! It’s that devoted sports fan whose most important function in life is the success of his team. He lives and dies a devoted fan, and nothing can change that. Take away his school or his team, and you take away his life.

He’s the kind of fan who calls off work to attend the local game, or who misses his doctor’s appointment to see his team play. He wears all the colors, even to church. He knows every stat, every score and every win/loss in every game throughout the past 10 years and beyond.

He remembers every player that even the coaches often forget. He became friends with every one of them, including most of their parents. He becomes a legend in his own right.

Everyone knows him on sight; he’s often allowed on the sidelines, or near the bench. The coaches know him, and he knows them. He can name all the coaches and A.D.’s from years past and seems to have insight on what’s going on that others don’t. If you want to know who the next coach will be, ask him; he normally is one of the first to know.

I’ve seen several in my time, some have now passed, but they still live on; they spent their whole lives wrapped up in local high school sports, never missing a game, always there to offer their opinion of the game, as well as their often unorthadox reason why they lost. Funny thing is, they are often right.

Another fascinating aspect about them is they seldom display bad sportsmanship. They like to get involved in the cheering and all the hoopla. Not the big tailgate guy, just more interested in getting to the game to see the players. They know all the officials and referees.

Hardly ever do they say anything bad about the opposition, and normally they are very respectful and complimentary. Do you know any of these guys or gals? I’ve probably known seven or eight of them in my time. They are friends of everyone. I was talking to one the other night at the park. We started talking about past players and this guy knew them all.

That’s the kind of sports fans these guys are. They love their teams, their players, and they love their communities and schools. However, they seem to have a great respect for the overall good of the game. They are serious; they don’t like problems. They are no-nonsense guys. I think they get a lot of that from being around the coaches, and it wears off on them.

I remember several of them over the years, God love them all! They add so much to local sports.

Every school also has those not so great sideline coaches. I don’t care where you go they are there. They know every rule, every kid that’s playing, and every parent. They like to cut down kids when they make a bad play. They know way more than the paid coaches, because they can tell you everything the paid coaches do wrong. They know who is playing in the wrong position, they want you to think they know all the right things to do. They are legends as well, everyone knows them. There should be a sports hall-of-fame for wanabee coaches.

Now, don’t get them mixed up with volunteer coaches, because there is a major difference. Volunteer coaches actually are there to help the kids, they work on the fields, and spend hours of their time working to help the kids develop skills to become better athletes and individuals. They are much appreciated and much needed. However, the sideline coaches are a different breed. They don’t belong in the same category as the devoted sports fan or the volunteer coaches.

The sideline, wannabee coaches are more concerned about what people think of them. They try and fool people into believing they have great sports knowledge, while their agenda is to destroy the hard work of real coaches. Most people know who they are, and they’re easy to spot. Look around at a high school sporting event. They are usually bunched together in groups of four or five on the front row, or hanging along the fence at the baseball games. You will notice them whispering to each other when a play goes wrong. When their team is winning they are fully supportive, but when things aren’t going their way you’ll see a lot of talking and very little encouragement.

The big difference between the devoted fan and the sideline coach is support and respect. The devoted fan gives total support to his team, school and coach. And for that the devoted fan earns receives trust and respect. He would do everything possible to make things better. The sideline coach is the opposite in every way. He is only supportive if it’s his child who makes the good play, and never leaves the field or court. He is never seen at a game after his kids are out of school and he has zero relationship with the real coaches. He also has zero respect from others, except from other sideline coaches.

Truely dedicated sports fans are becoming harder and harder to find. There are still a lot of the old timers who show up at every game and cheer their old school on, but for the most part they are slowly fading away. Last year I noticed local schools had a hard time filling up the gyms, and there were small crowds at the local football fields. Hopefully, this fall we can reverse that trend and start packing them in. Whether your team is winning or losing, try and be supportive in some way. We have some great local athletes lets give them something to play for. School pride, community pride and tradition are things that can bring out the best in athletes.

As a witty old coach once said, “even if our teams lose them all, If lessons are learned in defeat, our team is getting a great education.”

After a loss, John McKay was asked by a reporter, “What do you think of the execution of your team.” McKay answered, “ I’am in favor of it.” eparsons@tylerstarnews.com