Wednesday, January 22, 2014

a open, bullet-point letter to sports fans and participants everywhere

just a few thoughts I’ve had on the subject of sports recently. between skating and football, I’m a little bit disillusioned by sports and people’s reaction to them.

  • it takes two teams to play a football game. (or any other competitive sport, for that matter.) without the other team, you have nothing to play. the other team is just that: the other team. they are not the enemy. they are not the “bad guys”. they are not the spawn of the devil. they are the other team.
  • as the other team, they do their job, you do yours. train. play hard. do your best. make every possible, allowable effort to win the game. this is the responsibility of both teams. and what makes for a good, competitive game.
  • it is lots of fun to support your team, especially when they are winning. being a fan is awesome. okay ways to express this would be to buy jerseys, wave flags, go to games, cheer your team on, put stickers on your car, etc.
  • not okay ways to express this would be to personally insult players from the opposing team, personally insult fans of the opposing team, to use derogatory terms to describe fans or players from the opposing team, to throw food at injured players from the opposing team, etc. I thought this should be part of the common code of conduct for civilized human beings, but I’ve been proven wrong in recent weeks.
  • when your team (or favorite competitor – for individual sports) wins, celebrate! enjoy the win, but in a gracious way.
  • when your team (or favorite) loses, be gracious about that as well. do not express your disappointment with anger or insults.
  • back story: when I was in college, I made an uncharacteristic decision and joined a sorority. one of the ‘rules’ of the sorority, was that members were not to drink, smoke, or do things while wearing their letters that would reflect badly on the sorority. while my 18 year old, generation X, rebellious self found the existence of those constraints to be annoying at the time, I can see the wisdom behind it.
  • the point: when wearing team colors, YOU speak for the team. the second you put on that jersey and step on the field, YOU no longer represent only yourself and where you come from. you represent the team, the organization, and the city that supports you. with your words AND your actions.
  • when kids play sports, they are taught a lot of things. one of those things is the rules of the game and strategies for playing it well. another of those things is good sportsmanship. during the game, they are encouraged to play fairly and nicely. at the end of the game, they are encouraged, if not required, to do a cheer for the OTHER team, shake hands or high five and say “good game” to their opponents. and then they have snacks.
  • they are not encouraged to taunt the other team. they are also not encouraged to use expletives as they celebrate their victory or bemoan their defeat.
  • winning AND losing both happen in sports, and learning to be a good sport under both circumstances is important.
  • perhaps our youth sports programs need to revisit this idea and emphasize it a little bit more.
  • spectators of youth sports are required to exhibit good sportsmanship as well. they are not allowed to heckle, yell at, or insult the other team’s players, coaches, or the officials of the game.
  • and finally, keep in mind that it is a sport. it is not a war. whether it is little league, the olympics, or the super bowl. it is a sport, played by people. people with friends and families and goals they have fought hard to achieve. whether they are on your team or play for your country, or not, they deserve your respect as athletes and as human beings.

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