With the dawning of a new year comes the annual rite of passage: the making of new year’s resolutions. Some common resolutions are to lose weight, work out more, stop wasting time, etc. Here’s hoping four days into the new year you are on track with whatever goals you have set for yourself this year.
As a longtime observer of the Maine high school and youth sports scene, here are some suggested resolutions for fans, which if carried out, would greatly improve the atmosphere at gyms, rinks, and fields throughout our state:
Know the Rules: I’ll admit, I’m not an expert on every rule but I feel I have a pretty good handle on the basics. It’s like fingernails grating on a chalkboard when I hear the crowd holler “3 seconds” when a shot goes up and the ball hadn’t even been off the rim for two. Or fans screaming for a back court violation when front court hasn’t even been established. How about those over the back non-calls, which are perfectly legal provided no contact is made. One of my favorites is when an official calls a foul on a rebound and some fan says “he was just boxing out”. This when a player displaces the other some two feet across the floor with some part of his body. Admittedly, I hear a lot of coaches say this as well.
Don’t Live in the Past, Appreciate the Present: I love reliving past games and always am looking to learn more about the heritage of sports in this state. It’s easy to get caught up and try to compare what we see now to what we have already lived through. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Memories, though, sometimes aren’t the most accurate and we tend to look at the past with rose-colored glasses. Today’s players and coaches put in a great deal of time and effort. Let’s look to celebrate what we have in the present.
Maintain Perspective: Remember, the participants you are seeing on the courts and playing fields are young people. Many will go on to do great things once they leave high school. Hopefully their time as a high school athlete, while a time they cherish, will not be the highlight of their life. While we get caught up in the competitiveness of the contests, ask yourself this: Will the results of this really matter five to ten years from now?
Stand up and be Counted: We’ve all been there. We’ll be attending a game and some parent in the stands will be telling everyone within earshot about the problems of the program, particularly the coach. Many of us, not wanting to cause a scene will just nod in agreement rather than voice what we really believe. A coaching friend of mine once said the key to coaching is to keep the parents who can’t stand you away from those who haven’t made up their minds yet.
Don’t be an Ass: Most high schools have a sportsmanship announcement read over the public address system prior to their contests. It generally goes along the lines of treating players, coaches, and officials with respect, while remembering the educational component involved in high school athletics. As an announcer myself, I’ve often made these type of announcements prior to games. A sportswriter friend of mine made the suggestion that we could sum up the entire sportsmanship statement with this one four word phrase: Don’t be an ass. Works for me, however I’m not sure this would be well received by most administrators if this was uttered over the PA system. People would get the point, however many who are utter asses don’t often realize they are utter asses.
Here’s hoping 2015 brings you much happiness and success. Let’s also make it a year we improve the collective youth sports landscape throughout our great state.