A cautionary tale

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 30, 2002

Football season is well underway, and with it, the inevitable accoutrement of football - hot chocolate, bullhorns, parents The behavior of parents, students and other fans has been exemplary so far. We have faith that will continue. Tempers can flare and disappointment, in the heat of the moment, can often lead to words or actions that could cost not only the speaker, but the entire team.

In Tennessee, an admittedly bad call was made at a high school girls' softball game. When a fan - not even a parent - confronted the umpire after the game, the entire team was penalized by being banned from postseason play the following year. The worst part - that team, in regular play, beat every single team that went to the playoffs and could have easily taken home the state trophy. Because of one fan, they were denied that opportunity, even though the team members themselves were perfect sports, both on and off the field.

Seem unfair? It did to almost everyone involved, but the ruling body of high school sports refused to turn over the decision and it stood.

Since then, the fans of that particular team have been very, very well behaved, but it doesn't help the girls when they eye the empty spot in the trophy case that they were more than qualified to fill.

Of course, it isn't all about trophies. The ruling would have been just as wrong if the girls team was terrible.

The fan would have been just as wrong to confront the ump, if the call had been good or bad. What it is all about is sportsmanship - and setting examples. Do we show our children how to react to unfairness by whining and arguing and throwing punches? Or we do we show them how to approach the unfairness with calm reason, even acceptance, when the situation remains unfair?

We have witnessed - not here, thank goodness - reprehensible behavior at ballgames. Name calling, pushing, throwing, cursing from the adults. From the children it would be understandable - but would need to be corrected. From the adults, it is an unbelievable display of what not to do when you grow up.

Having witnessed the terrible disappointment and disillusionment experienced by those young women, we are grateful to see that our local fans and parents and students are setting a higher standard for their schools.