Friday, July 30, 2010

Out of Bounds. How Far is Too Far?

The foundation of sport is competition…Is it not? From our early years in organized sports rivalries are formed. There was always that one team that out-right squashed your team and you couldn’t wait for a re-match. I suppose thoughts of adoration filled your mind and you only spoke highly of this dreaded opponent. NO! You complained, put down, and downright plotted your revenge till you faced them again…and during that match up frustration and anger propelled you to compete with vigor! Right? Of course, we were all taught about sportsmanship. We tried our best to play a safe game, shook their hands afterward and were embarrassed of parents that acted inappropriately from the stands (for the most part.) However, did we lose more and more of this weak version of sportsmanship that we have turned into ruthless, offending fans?
That is not really the question. The question is how much of this behavior is unacceptable. I have been labeled a “hater” by many of my friends and foes. Whether or not that is true is debatable. I have never liked Tiger Woods…what am I expected to say after his scandals? Come on! Look...I believe that sport needs a healthy dose of trash talk. I can handle it. Bring forth the comments about how the Twins are mediocre and how OU will never win a NCAA National Championship! If we have no foes on a team and personal level, what can we fight for out there? What is the glory of winning if you are not overcoming doubt and adversity? People are offended WAY too easy when it comes to sport. Friendships are lost simply because one makes an “unacceptable” comment about the team or sport someone loves.
Why is that? People voice that “everyone should keep their opinions to themselves, “and “why do you have to hate on him? He is just a man!” Let me address these two comments. Do you watch ESPN, read Sports Illustrated or tune into local sports radio? These media outlets are filled (whether you want to admit it or not) with opinion and bias that skews public opinion daily. Ask everyone to not share whatever it is they think or feel about sports, and you would beg for it back after a week! Also, athletes from the college level up choose to be put in the spotlight and are compensated for their service. They have an obligation to the media and the public. Do we cross the line into what is fair game? Absolutely. But athletes know that is likely before going into the situation. You really can’t feel sorry for them can you?
The widely used phrase “it is just a game” is simply not accurate. It is a business, a need for victory, and a release for all the aggression pent up from daily frustrations. Vince Lombardi said, “If winning doesn’t count why do they keep score?” I say, “Enjoy the trash talk you get…because tomorrow will lend you the opportunity to return it!”
“This is one of the greatest rivalries in sports. It’s great for baseball and it will always be great for baseball. If anything, the energy that comes from the fans being into it locks you in. I expect heavy boos. I expect nothing less from those fans.” – Mark Texeira, N.Y. Yankees

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