Sports beat recalls the good and bad

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Over the past few days I've been playing sports reporter while John Wallace took some well-deserved vacation time. It's been interesting to say the least.

I say "playing" because that's what I feel like I've been doing some of the time. You see, there's a reason I don't write sports stories.

I get to be too big a fan and well, sometimes, my emotions tend to get in the way at a game or when writing a story that's sports related.

I know this now, and I knew it back in college. Heck, I even knew it in high school.

Covering the area's softball and Little League games over the past few days brought that realization back to life, and made me reflect back on my own days of Little League ball and when my sister played softball.

When I played Little League, I was always the catcher. Occasionally, I would play right field, but most of the time it was catcher.

Playing that position - well, let's just say you hear a lot of comments.

I remembered hearing all the parents cheering for their sons (and daughters - girls played baseball back then), rooting the team on, and yes, even calling out nasty remarks to the opposing team.

I guess that's why I quit playing. I love baseball, and I was a decent catcher. I could hit the ball, just not with a lot of power, and running

well, let's just say fat boys can't run very fast. But, it was still a fun game. That is until you start to take notice of all the remarks being tossed your way.

When I was at Johnson Park covering the girls' softball tournament championship, a controversial call was made and appealed to the highest level of the district. When the district official made a ruling on a call he didn't even see, I got mad, along with some of the parents, and felt my emotions brewing - even though I didn't personally know a single girl on the team or their parent. But, as one would expect, Andalusia's girls, coaches and most of the parents reacted with the utmost grace, dignity and class one would expect.

Parents on the opposing team weren't so kind, and it made me remember my days as the catcher. I even felt a little sympathy for the umpire.

And then I remembered that in the past, I too, had acted that way at times.

During football season in high school, I was a proud member of the band

however, I let my emotions run a little too high at times and it was not uncommon for me to be warned about being so vocal or I might be asked to leave the game (or get detention).

Fortunately, I've learned to control my emotions at sporting events (except the Iron Bowl - but that's legally acceptable in Alabama). I've also learned through the years that I don't want to be the one throwing those nasty remarks out on the field so some little boy or girl can hear what I heard as a catcher.

My nephew plays soccer and T-ball. I went to all but one of his soccer games and several of his T-ball games. I didn't see any parents yelling at their sons or daughters to be more aggressive or being crude to the opposing team. It was a good feeling, knowing that these parents were out supporting not just their own child, but all of the children, and being friendly and kind. Gone were the nasty remarks. In their place was what should be at all youth sporting events

a love of the game and a love of watching children learn the game.