I abhor obnoxious individuals who solicit advice during athletic events. While I love to scream “get him, get him” or “run, run” during football games, you will not hear me say unkind words. Sure, I might ask the referee if he needs the number to my eye doctor, but it is merely out of concern for his eyesight and nothing else.
Last week, when we went to cheer on WKU and our delightful youngest as he helped hydrate the football team during his debut as a student athletic trainer, I was shocked at the Twitter posts asking for WKU’s coach to resign or that he be fired. Yes, the loss was probably avoidable, but all of those individuals up in arms, probably have never coached on a college level. Then Bryce told me that fans were screaming things like, “Helen Keller could coach better than you,”. I would love to find out where that individual works and scream “helpful words of encouragement” while he attempts to continue to do his job.
Friday night, at a high school football game, I heard a fan scream, “I could do a better job of playing and I am an old man,”. I looked at the individual who probably hasn’t faced himself in the mirror lately. Portly, grumpy looking, and most likely peaked in grade school, he continued his rant on how the team “sucked”. Granted, the team is struggling this year. They are young and learning. We can’t have an undefeated season every season. But as I listened to the unkind words spewing towards these young men, I wondered, is this how we showcase our human decency to our youth?
I am aware that this is typical. Maybe I am a little more sensitive because I personally know the individuals being assaulted by vicious words. I have no idea how to play football let alone coach, so why would I consider offering advice on how to do it better? Would I consider giving a brain surgeon advice? Or maybe a lawyer? No. There is a boundary crossed when you start personally attacking people based on what you have no knowledge of. It bleeds into our society. It creates a toxic environment.
I am not immune to the realities of sports and the banter that comes with it. I realize that this is how fans “cheer” for their teams. But last night, as I watched my son’s college team play a more substantial rival, I was mindful of the encouragement that could be offered versus the complaints. What brought that full circle was a T-shirt a young girl was wearing, “Choose your words carefully. I am the child of a coach,”. I think that sums up life. Being careful of how we express ourselves. Being mindful that the words we spew whether at an athletic event or a personal interaction can do harm. That is the lesson. But, I am still worried about the eyesight of many of the referees on the field these days. Their plight is real.