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Lighten up?


I've heard from a number of people that my stance on yelling from the stands is an over reaction and that I should learn to lighten up - yelling at officials and coaches is part of the game. Here are a few of the reasons that I have a difficult time accepting this reaction.

While I agree conceptually that public scrutiny is a by product of the position of coach or official, the manner in which that scrutiny is delivered by many is what I am personally concerned about. As a society, we have created this unhealthy environment. We launch verbal attacks that often times escalate to personal attacks - not just a disagreement with the call/play. We justify it as "part of the game" or because we "paid for a ticket", we have the right to say whatever we feel. Having the right to do something doesn't always mean it is the right thing to do. I am concerned that the resulting damage from society's acceptance of this practice of mistreatment (my opinion) of coaches and officials will ultimately affect all levels of sport. If young kids grow up listening to and watching poor behavioral examples, what will they teach and accept as coaches and parents when they grow up?

We have a major societal problem with verbal bullying and harassment. If we as adults model that it is okay to yell and scream at someone when we don't agree with them because it is "part of the game", I'm not sure that kids will be able to make those connections when they disagree with something/someone. I fear that this will have an adverse effect on our ability to combat bullying/harassment and that it will continue to erode the purity of the games. We also have a shortage of officials and qualified coaches at many levels. I believe that the way society is treating the ones we have is having a major impact on our ability to retain and recruit the next generation. I'm not referring to those individuals who feel a strong passion and commitment to the profession/athletics. I believe they will always be there. I am alluding to people who leave the profession after a year or two and those who may not jump into the fray and give it a try at all because it isn't "worth the hassle". We need people of high character to restock the shelves. I don't feel as a society that we are creating the right climate to attract that clientele right now.

I ask that before you put an official or coach on "blast" for a call you disagree with, please consider the lasting effects of a momentary digression. While you have the right to a contrary opinion, you also have a responsibility to be civil.

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