Sportsmanship issues place cloud over grid season

Ed Daniels    This fall, sportsmanship has taken a big hit.
    In a recent high school football game involving two rival metro area schools, several skirmishes broke out. Trash talking went on almost unabated. Frankly, I was embarrassed for both schools. Their missions are supposed to be about something much greater than what I witnessed that day.
    Just last week, at a high school game I attended, one of the teams ran out on the field just before kickoff and made a beeline to the other team’s bench. Coaches separated players from both teams.
    When the game kicked off, there was penalty after penalty. One of the linesmen in the game told me he had never seen anything like what he witnessed in the first quarter of this game. What was truly sad about this incident is that it marred a game between talented teams.
    In both games, the head coaches of the teams involved have been with their schools for several years. They are quality people. I guess that is what made the behavior of some members of their team truly stunning.
    Last Saturday, in the opening kickoff of the South Carolina at Mississippi State game, the ball was booted into the end zone. The return man kneeled down to take a touchback. But, still, two members of the kick coverage team ran down into the end zone and got into the return man’s face.
    Frankly, I find the behavior boorish.
    And, so are the parents of some of the athletes. After the first week of the season, I got a Facebook message from a parent who complained that at one of the games we covered on Friday night, we didn’t show enough plays of his son. The message went on to say several unkind things about this reporter and our program.
    Recently, a parent called and asked for a video of their child in a high school football game. I spoke to the head coach that week and asked about the parent. The coach told me, “Ed, he tried to get me fired after last season.”
    I was saddened by the news because the coach in question is an outstanding person who does things the right way in his own life. He is a great role model for children.
    But, I can’t say I was stunned. When I have seen instances of bad sportsmanship in the past, I have often turned my head. I made sure that these video clips didn’t make our television program.
    But, those days are over. From now on when I witness something that is truly inappropriate, I will make sure the clip makes the air. I will call attention to it.
    High school athletics is supposed to be about teaching values. And, most of our coaches do an outstanding job in this critical area.
    But, as a sporting society, we can do better. For me, the days of pretending that I didn’t see it are over.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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