Over the weekend I had the pleasure to watch two games of the ResCare Basketball Tournament at North Putnam High School.
The tournament involved seven teams from around the state including Greencastle's and Anderson's ResCare squads and it was a breath of fresh air.
In a departure from what most basketball tournaments have become, the ResCare tournament was one not of individuals but of a team. There was no announcer, the stands were not filled to capacity, but most of all there was not a sign of negativity in the facility. The random cheers that descended upon the court were ones of encouragement and at times you could actually hear family and friends laughing in the stands, having a good time -- just what basketball is all about.
I've noticed a terrible trend in sports in the recent years starting at the pro level and like everything; there is a trickle down effect. Once the pros started acting like overpaid babies, college athletes were quick to follow suit. Now some high school athletes argue every call, stare down refs and in other words act like their peers.
The thing that most athletes forget about the game they play is the fact that it is just that -- a game. The recent retirement of Green Bay's Brett Favre should serve as a reminder of that. Here's an individual who has seen tragedy in his life, suffered injuries on the field but still managed to smile and have a good time every single time he stepped on the gridiron.
The greatest aspect of any athletic event is the involvement of its fans. I couldn't imagine any game without rabid fans crowding the stands cheering their team and putting pressure on the opposition. It's unfortunate that it has become a more common occurrence that fans want to be bigger than the game itself. They want their yells and jeers to draw attention to themselves in an attempt to show how deep their loyalties lie, but in reality all it shows is the lack of respect they have for the players and the game itself.
In the past season I've seen two coaches and one woman ejected from a game and saw more that should have been sent packing from the arena. I've seen players throw their hands in the air arguing a call more than I can count, saw coaches stomping on the court in protest and watched in awe when a girls coach from an opposing school brought a girl to tears after excluding her from the huddle and then getting nose-to-nose with her on the bench because she didn't do something right. I said it once and I'll say it again --IT IS A GAME.
Watching coaches from around the area, I have to say that we have some of the best coaches coaching in Putnam County. You might not agree with what they say or do all the time but they conduct themselves much more civilized than the majority of their counterparts.
As the '08 spring season begins, I ask the fans to be positive. There are going to be calls you disagree with, substitutions you don't understand and events that will cost you team some wins; but stay positive. Instead of losing your cool and letting the dark half take over, show your kids that no matter what the win/loss total is, that they are the most important component in the equation.
Lift them up instead tearing them down.