I scream, you scream, we all scream … at high school sports events.
Yes, screaming isn’t for just ice cream anymore.
In a matter of days, the local high school sports season for the 2018-19 school year will begin in earnest, and many of us will be attending events. A lot of us will be attending many events over the coming weeks and months.
We’ll bring our lungs to these competitions so that we can scream loudly for a long time, and frequently. That’s good, sort of.
Indeed, it’s good to make yourself heard at these events. It’s the American way. The price of your admission guarantees you that right. Free speech and all of that, you know.
We’re asking just one small favor, though. Actually, it’s a big favor because it’s a big deal. We’re asking – no, make that, we’re down-on-our-knees begging and pleading – to do one thing, just one. Please, please, please scream FOR these fine young athletes, their coaches, teams and the officials, and NOT at them.
That is, make your voices be supportive, and not negative, degrading and disruptive. Cheer them on to victory. Don’t scream at them because you’re angry, mad, disappointed, disgusted and distraught at what’s going on out there.
Voices FOR these players, coaches, teams and officials are great. It is part of what makes high school sports a wonderful endeavor and a memorable experience. Voices AGAINST them are like thorns in everyone’s side. It’s ugly. It sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s the distasteful underbelly of this otherwise wonderful extracurricular activity.
There is nothing worse than adults tearing apart the actions of those on the field. These are high school sports, played by 16- and 17-year-old kids, coached by men and women who double as science teachers and physical education instructors and officiated by women and men who, in their day jobs, are furnace repair technicians, business owners and loan officers at banks. They aren’t professionals, nor are they trying to portray themselves as such.
If you want to vent your frustration at people who are being paid a lot of money to play, coach and officials, then go to a professional event and let these professional people know. They can take it. Their paychecks are such that it’s worth hearing the booing.
Those on the local level at the local schools are doing the very best they can. But they are human, and they will make mistakes. Sometimes, just like all of you, they will have bad days and nights, times when, no matter how hard they try, they are going to mess up – sometimes very badly so. It at those times especially that we must have empathy, compassion, patience, caring, kindness, understanding and benevolence. They really need our support at these times more than any other. It’s easy to cheer them on when they succeed, but it’s a whole heckuva lot harder to do so, too, when they struggle.
Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, I can assure you that this tearing apart of high school athletes, coaches, teams and officials has been going on for decades. It isn’t just a new phenomenon ny any stretch of the imagination.
I can remember Bob Cormany, the longtime Coventry Schools superintendent telling me about one of his high school coaches who had been losing a lot of games for a lot of years.
"I had to fire the guy, or else the people were going to lose their minds," he said.
And that was back in the 1950s, during the Eisenhower administration.
It may be worse now than it has ever been but it’s certainly not new.
It’s getting so bad now, though, that some players don’t want to play anymore, some coaches don’t want to coach anymore and some officials don’t want to officiate anymore. The grief they take – the hateful and downright scary and even threatening things they hear – just isn’t worth it.
Please don’t chase these people out of endeavors they truly love. Instead, give them a reason to stay in the game, and when you do, it will really be something to cheer about.