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Grown men ridiculing kids playing sports games

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POSTED February 9, 2014 8:39 p.m.

Quite often when it comes to sports, my opinions are in the minority.

When I was 19 and helping coach a youth football team while in the service, I kept telling the head coach that despite the team’s talent level – and this was a talented group of kids – that he needed to do something but scrimmage every day for practice, that if he did not drill fundamentals, when the playoffs started the team would be in trouble.

He told me he would do it his way, and if I did not like it, I could leave. At 19, my interpersonal communication skills were not honed to the fine edge that they are today, so I told him to shove it and left. After a 10-0 season, the team was one and done in the playoffs with a 60-0 shellacking in the first round.

Although I was in the minority, history proved me right.

I am about to step into the unpopular side on what may soon become a hot-button issue. Sunday morning on the news there was a report of a college basketball player who went after a fan in the stands, but I am not jumping on his condemnation bandwagon just yet.

In the closing seconds of his game, the player went high on the glass to block a shot and ended up in the crowd. Words were exchanged between him and a fan – and it looks like the fan said something first – and the player shoved the fan.

On the surface, conventional wisdom says all that is good and holy should descend upon the player with a vengeance. He should have been ejected, should be suspended and possibly removed from the team. But what if, as reports indicate, the fan hurled a racial insult at the player? If that is the case, then I wish the player would have knocked the knucklehead fan flat on his butt.

And this fan definitely can be called a knucklehead. He is legend for his heckling of opposing players and has been caught on video making an obscene gesture at a player. I wonder what has not been caught on video. A former coach referred to the fan as a loyal fan. A loyal fanatic is more like it.

We are the sum of our parts, a product of our upbringing. Where does a fan like that form his craft? I am going to go out on a limb here and say that he cut his rude teeth at high-school basketball games.

I see plenty of his knucklehead-in-training types every week. I just do not understand how grown men can act the fool while ridiculing kids. And I further do not understand how the school administrators allow this to happen. “Victory with Honor” is more than words. It is supposed to be a policy.

In all my years of reporting, I have seen only two fans escorted from the stands. One year a particular fan section was so bad that the school’s athletic director had to sit in the middle of them like a kindergarten teacher overseeing 5-year-olds at recess. Adults had to be supervised like a bunch of thumb suckers barely out of diapers. And they were proud of it, too. But the majority of fans I see every week are well behaved and act appropriately.

One thing I hear day in and day out, week in and week out are varying renditions of the National Anthem. And just like the majority of the fans act appropriately, the majority of these singers do the Star Spangled Banner proud.

But there are others who treat that hollowed hymn like it was their American Idol audition. And I certainly cannot be the only person in the gym who cringes at those renditions.

Or am I in the minority there, too? Let me know at davegcampbell@aol.com.

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