Sometimes, people forget that sports, especially at the high school level, are about fun.
Now, am I saying that kids should not want to compete, try their hardest and represent their schools with pride? Of course not, but above all of those items should be fun, and enjoying the experience.
This past Friday was an unfortunate example of how we can sometimes lose sight of that and let our emotions get the best of us.
It was a chilly, rainy, windy Friday afternoon at Scituate High School. The Toll Gate football team was in town to take on the host Spartans, and the Titans rolled to the 42-7 win.
Before I go any further, let me make myself clear. I am going to be favoring Toll Gate in this column very slightly, but it has nothing to do with home cooking … I’m just telling you my honest experience.
As the game wore on, the Titans lead and momentum grew … as did the frustration on the Scituate sideline.
In the second half of the game, an assistant coach from Scituate grew very angry and began losing his cool on his players more and more with each passing error. He even began shooting me, as well as my fellow media members, nasty looks, and mumbling what appeared to be insults under his breath. It was clear that he was on the brink of a meltdown, but we were just hoping that he would get over it.
Shortly after the game, the teams walked through the handshake line. Sure enough, that assistant coach ended up going toe to toe with a Toll Gate assistant, and all hell broke loose.
Threats were shouted, so were many cuss words, coaches and even some players stepped in to pull the two combatants apart. After a couple minutes of peacemaking and cooling off, a police officer arrived to give each team an escort to their respective bus.
From what I heard, it sounds like what happened was that the assistant coach from Scituate not so politely accused the Titans’ coaching staff of running up the score during the handshake line, to which the Toll Gate staff objected.
Had I not been stationed on the Scituate sideline and seen the way its coach behaved prior to the skirmish, I would have chalked it up to two teams just being emotional after a cold, rainy, sloppy game. But I can’t, and in my opinion, that coach should never be allowed on a sideline again.
Was Toll Gate free of blame here? Nope, the staff should have also just walked away from the situation. But make no mistake about it, the Scituate assistant was the aggressor and deserves to have the most fingers pointed in his direction.
We’re only human and I’m sure the Scituate coach was just trying to defend his players, well, maybe, he could have also been trying make up for his own frustration.
However, it was just a bad look and a bad example set for the kids. You feel like the opposing coach disrespected you and your team? How about this, calmly tell him after the game you didn’t appreciate it and walk away.
I’m sure the kids on each team will be in school talking about it and acting as if it didn’t bother them, but believe me, their faces said it all. They were uncomfortable, and for good reason … the adults that are supposed to be the tone setters and leaders were aggressive and hostile. It was uncomfortable for everyone.
Personally, outside of the most extreme of circumstances, I never see a reason to let something like a high school sporting event provoke a reaction like that. The kids’ well-being was never in jeopardy (prior to the dispute), and to be honest … there have been much worse blowouts. Even the Scituate players weren’t that heated after the loss.
Beyond this example, I have seen quite a few incidents this fall that have upset me. Whether it be angry coaches, unruly parents and fans, and even a few cases of players disrespecting their coaches and refs, there have been some awkward moments.
Is there a trend developing here? I don’t think so, I think it is likely me just paying closer attention to it since it is fresh on my mind.
But overall, let’s celebrate these teams and athletes, and remember that these sports are meant to be played for fun, and to help the kids learn to interact, socialize, work as a team, and build their resumes for college. There is almost never a reason to allow sports to cause you to lose your temper, and especially get into an altercation with another person over them. It’s classless and embarrassing. That Scituate coach’s behavior was disgusting and I hope that his actions have been addressed.
As I said earlier, we’re all human, and I won’t condemn any of those involved beyond what happened that day. It’s easy for me as a bystander to slam them, and they could be totally different people off the field.
But let this serve as a reminder that it is not only up to the kids to demonstrate good sportsmanship.