Ramey: Jeers ruin the fun

Connor Ramey

There it was. The Balers undefeated season in the Tri-County Athletic League was about to come to a quick end and the visitors from Everett Alvarez could do nothing else but gloat.
Surprisingly, though, the gloating wasn’t coming from the Eagle players. Yes, they were celebrating the soon-to-be victory – as they should – but most of the gloating came from parents that surrounded me in the stands.
Sitting behind the score table, I was in the middle of the clashing pool of fans. One side was donned with the red of the hometown Balers, the other the Eagles. In a close game, both groups really didn’t show their best colors.
Instead of focusing on the play of the players and celebrating great plays – there was a plethora of 3-point shooting and even a dunk – parents and fans focused their anguish over the referees.
The game started on a false note because one of the referees was stuck in traffic, and the crowd became a little restless. Eventually the crowd turned against those in the black-and-white pin stripes.
Sadly, this wasn’t the only time the treatment of refs over took the play of the teams. It’s quickly becoming a common theme throughout each game of the 2012 season – on both sides.
Throughout each of the season’s 32-minute games, fans celebrating each team yell and scream at the referees. Against Alvarez, they booed mercifully when the start to the second half was delayed because of some confusion with who gets the ball. And every foul call – regardless of how blatant – was met with a chorus of jeers.
It’s basketball – there will be fouls so get use to it.
Rooting for a team isn’t the problem, but what the rooting brings out can be. An atmosphere that should be fun and exciting for the kids on the court, turns into a whirlwind of hostility directed toward the men in black and white.
As with all things, a line should be drawn. In this case, there is no point at yelling at the referees even if they missed a call – or called a phantom foul – because, honestly, what’s the point?
Fans and parents yelling at referees – and sometimes coaches – doesn’t create any benefits. Instead it manifests the mindset that vocal threats are necessary and part of the game.
They aren’t and they should never be.
The reality is, what are we teaching our kids? What situation is yelling at someone the right thing to do? Especially, when the yelling creates no outcome.
Despite screaming until your voice completely goes away, referees don’t change the call. He or she will continue doing what they are doing.
And for the players – impressionable youth – blaming mistakes on the referee creates the idea that it’s their fault not the team or the players.
It creates the atmosphere of pointing fingers instead of one of accountability. The goal of sports is to have fun but also learn the lesson of humility and defeat. You aren’t always going to get your way. Most likely, you will lose and you will falter.
The greatest thing about sports is overcoming those defeats and accomplishing something – whether it’s a championship or a simple victory.
Sports aren’t for the parents and their screaming nonsense. Sports are for the kids. Sports are a part of growing up. So let the kids do that and learn.
Take a back seat and give the sports back to them.
Competitiveness is an important feature in daily lives, but so is accountability.

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