Long Shots: Enjoy the game without ruining it for the those who respect it

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Have you heard that one fan in the crowd who simply can’t keep his or her mouth shut?


Those people drive me crazy.


Folks who know me personally know that I used to get a little excited myself at ball games-another aspect of my life that I chalk up to youthful immaturity.


But after taking myself out of athletics almost entirely several years ago, I’ve found a new appreciation for those fans who can enjoy an athletic event without being obnoxious about it.


The one thing that really gets my blood boiling during a game is a fan who screams and yells at the officials.


What good does it do? Do those fans think officials hear them? Do they think officials will overturn their call based upon some loud-mouth’s advice? Or more importantly, do they think they care?


Perhaps, there is some personal therapeutic value to these vein-popping shrieks hurled at officials-or players for that matter.


I sure would like to be the guy who can somehow bottle this rage and sell it-that is, if it really is therapeutic.


I guess I’ve just grown tired of yelling during games. Occasionally, I’ll bellow out a “Nice shot,” or “Get him off his back.” But other than that, I try to stay quiet.


I used to make a complete fool out of myself at athletic events. The only people who ever heard me were usually the ones who were happy when I just kept my mouth shut.


I think it comes down to his or her respect for the game.


For the longest time, I didn’t really understand the entire scheme of an athletic event. Sure, I understood the players and the game fairly well, but I never observed everybody else involved in the game.


I’ve come to realize that respect should be shown to those who play, those who officiate and, maybe more importantly, those around us. How much fun is a sporting event if somebody is standing in front of you screaming and yelling the entire game?


Now, please know I realize some fans go above and beyond being respectable fans. I think it’s OK to heckle players and even other fans at times, but anything beyond that is just wasted breath. Literally.


The only people who should be conversing with the officials are other officials or coaches. And even some coaches need to cool it when it comes to “talking” with officials.


For the most part, area coaches do a good job representing their respective teams. I’ve even seen instances when a coach will get on a referee or official and they’ll get a so-called “make-up” call.


I’ve also seen coaches screaming at officials, and it accomplishes the exact opposite result.


Several years ago, the Tabor College men’s basketball team challenged a highly touted Washburn University team on Tabor’s home court. The Bluejays did more than take care of business on that night.


But for the Washburn coach, the loss must have looked even worse from the locker room-he was tossed out of the game after arguing with the officials. After throwing his suit jacket, the coach angrily stomped off the court.


What kind of message does this send to fans, players and even kids?


In my middle-school basketball days, I had a coach who preached the value of keeping one’s composure. Those words have finally made sense after many, many years.


I think a person can keep one’s composure and still enjoy the game to its fullest.


Yes, we all pay for our seat, and that does give us the right to cheer, yell and even scream when, how and at whom we want.


But if you find yourself standing and screaming at an official in a pack of fans who are sitting and enjoying the game, ask yourself: Are my words falling on deaf ears, or are good ears just not listening?

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