Rocky Hulne: Sportsmanship still matters

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2022

If you’ve ever been to a local sporting event in the past few years, there is a decent chance that you’ve heard some bickering from a parent in the crowd, a coach on the field, or even an upset player.

I’m completely OK with some good natured taunts, or even an overly competitive athlete losing  his or her cool for a moment, but there are times in competition when sportsmanship erodes and fanaticism takes its place.

A couple of weeks ago, the police had to be called out to Marcusen Park due to an alleged verbal altercation during the game, and this past winter there was a fan at a Bruins game, who threw a trash can at the opposing team’s bench on the Paint the Rink Pink night.

I wasn’t in attendance for the recent incident at Marcusen, but I was there for the trash can toss. Both events show us how we need to remember that sports are supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not brutal and confrontational.

Officials have a tough enough job as it is to control a fast-paced game that means a lot to both teams competing. The last thing they need is to hear threats from an angry dad or the unfunny jokes of a non-stop complaining heckler.

We are also currently facing a shortage of officials as many retired due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans need to accept that officials are human and can make mistakes just like their own children or favorite players. I promise you, none of these refs or umpires are taking bribes to fix games and none of them are trying to help a team win.

As for the officials, their job is to stay focused on the game and ignore the noise. I know it’s hard.

I actually was the referee for a youth basketball tournament in Hayfield a few years ago and I was way out of my element. Luckily, the fans were kind to me on that day, but a few jeers would’ve been tough to shake off.

Still, the burden falls on the officials to keep things orderly when chaos begins to creep in.

Lastly, I’ll throw out the saying that I always use during my son’s youth basketball games. It is very likely that nobody playing in any of these area games is going to make a living off of playing sports.

Chill out and enjoy the game.