10/03/04 — Opinion -- Good sports are scarce

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Opinion -- Good sports are scarce

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 3, 2004 2:00 AM

Gracious in victory. Humble in defeat. The "old-school" rule seems to be a bygone law that certainly doesn't accompany today's athletes on the high school, collegiate and professional scenes. Somewhere, these folks have forgotten that pride comes from within your soul and not how much "smack" you talk on the field or court.

When athletes put on a uniform they should realize they're ambassadors to their school, their community and represent their families. Fans should take the same approach when they're sitting in the stands watching the game.

Lay off the referees.

It's neither a player's responsibility nor a parent's obligation to constantly ride an official every game. It's the coach's duty to ask questions about certain calls. The officials have enough to worry about from the time they step into the gym until the game is over. Honestly, most of them don't give a darn about what's said in the bleachers, but sometimes the comments can get out of hand.

You're setting a poor example for young children sitting around you.

Lay off the other team's coaches and players.

In other words, keep your mouth shut and play the game to the best of your ability. If an opponent has better skills and better discipline, you should respect him or her for that. Don't try to "show up" the person by making a fancy move or committing a hard foul. All you're doing is showing your jealousy or frustration and certainly embarrassing yourself, your school and your community.

For God's sake, show some positive attitudes.

Applaud your team for a great play or hustle. Showing your support in that manner leaves a greater impression on opposing teams rather than hearing them mumble "they're a bunch of jerks" when they leave your gym or field.

Understandably, tempers do flare in the heat of competition. Coaches should take the time to calm down their team. After all, that's a good reason to burn a timeout, right?

Sometimes officials don't pay close attention to "game management" and lose overall control of the game. But, in the end, it's not the men and women blowing the whistles who lose the game.

Everyone who makes a mistake should hold themselves accountable for those errors. The constant bickering toward officials, coaches and other players needs to be cleaned up in athletics -- period.

Players and parents -- at every school in the state -- sign a sportsmanship form at the beginning of the season. This is not just some piece of paper claiming that you agree with the N.C. High School Athletic Association's guidelines on sportsmanship. It's a contract -- a binding document that once you sign it, you're abiding by the rules set forth to promote athletics in a positive manner.

Why should athletics directors spend their time supplying these forms to you?

The explanation is simple.

Year-end awards on the conference and state level are presented based on how your athletes present themselves in competition during their respective seasons. The conferences usually recognize the school with the best sportsmanship and the NCHSAA acknowledges schools who are ejection free.

Wouldn't you rather have a banner hanging in your school gymnasium praising you for your sportsmanship during the year?

Or do you want the reputation of being poor losers?