Tag Archives: Sportsmanship

Certain Fans Give Sports a Black Eye

Sunday afternoon the Houston Texans did something that they had done for the previous three weeks, they lost a game.

At 2-4 for the season it is highly unlikely that the Texans, who some had predicted as a Super Bowl team, will even make the playoffs this year.

Such is the nature of sports. You win some. You lose some. And until the game is played one does not know which side of the coin one will fall on.

Sure there are sports like soccer where the outcome can just as easily be a nil to nil draw, but by and large the stick and ball sports that most Americans follow end with a winner and a loser when all is said and done.

With this clear distinction of only two outcomes, it stands to reason that a team on any given day has an equal opportunity to either win or lose.

Of course there is a whole industry from fantasy sports to the betting houses in Las Vegas that try to guess the outcome ahead of time but they are not always successful since no one can predict with 100 percent accuracy what will happen once the players take the field.

This brings us back to the Texans who by most accounts are falling well short of expectations for the season.

By most accounts the Houston Texans are having a disappointing season. The reaction of some fans however is even more disappointing. Photo R. Anderson

By most accounts the Houston Texans are having a disappointing season. The reaction of some fans however is even more disappointing.
Photo R. Anderson

People are blaming coaches and players for the losing streak with some fans even calling for people to be fired or worse.

This came to a head during the game Sunday when the Texans quarterback left the game with a leg injury. Now, this same player had led the Texans to the postseason last year but he is off to a rough start this year and even set a NFL record with four consecutive games where he had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown in a play known as a pick 6 which got its name from the fact that the interception, or pick, results in six points for the opposing team.

So when the Texans quarterback was down on the ground in pain there was a vocal group of fans in the stands that were cheering the injury since they felt that it would mean a new quarterback would enter the game and lead the team to victory.

Instead the new quarterback entered the game and threw, you guessed it, a pick 6.

So it seems that the Texans issues are not limited to a single player having an off year and point to more of an institutional off year which teams do tend to have from time to time.

Of course any sane person could see that since rarely does one player win or lose a team sport. It takes the entire team working on both offense and defense to secure a victory.

Still, there are those extreme fans who fixate on a single player as the cause of all of their issues. Normally this just involves yelling at the television but in some cases it can turn violent.

While there have not been any reports of Texans fans getting violent towards any players yet there have even been reports of fans driving by the quarterback’s house and confronting his family.

That is taking things too far. No one, regardless of their profession, should have to deal with people harassing their family members.

Remember it is just a game. The athletes are paid to entertain us and to give their all during the game. They do not owe us anything during their off time and cheering for someone to get injured harkens back to something out of the Roman Coliseum days.

We have moved beyond those days although I am not so sure that everyone in society made that trip and we do seem to be reverting back to a more barbaric society.

Of course there is time to stop that trend and return to a more civilized sporting environment. Watch the games, enjoying the effort but don’t take it too far to the point of cheering for someone to get hurt just because they threw some interceptions.

From 1982 to 1991 the Washington Redskins went to the Super Bowl four times, winning three times against the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills. The second of those four appearances resulted in a loss to the Oakland Raiders.

The Washington Redskins went through a period where winning the Super Bowl each year became expected. With the last title coming over 20 years ago it has become clear that winning is not guaranteed. Some fans of the Houston Texans are still trying to learn that after a couple of trips to the playoffs. Photo R. Anderson

The Washington Redskins went through a period where winning the Super Bowl each year became expected. With the last title coming over 20 years ago it has become clear that winning is not guaranteed. Some fans of the Houston Texans are still trying to learn that after a couple of trips to the playoffs.
Photo R. Anderson

So as a fan of the Redskins during that time, winning it all sort of was expected despite the fact that only one team can win it all each year. It is sort of the way that fans of the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and New England Patriots expected to win it all every year during the dominant years each of those franchises had.

During the 1985 or 1986 season I was watching a Washington Redskins game with quarterback Jay Schroeder behind center.  Schroeder became the starting quarterback for the Redskins following a career ending leg injury to Joe Theismann. I mention this to point out that Theismann was a Hall of Famer and Schroeder was a backup at best who was thrust into the limelight due to an injury.

So during this particular game as younger me was watching from the couch and eating cheese and saltines Schroeder threw an interception. This upset me to the point that I clapped my hands together while shouting words to the effect of “Schroder you idiot.”

Of course yelling at the television did not accomplish anything other than causing me to break the ring I was wearing at the time from the force of my hands going together.

From that moment on I employed a strict no breakable jewelry during games policy but I also vowed to watch sports with a little less emotion.

Of course emotion is good when watching sports. I am definitely not saying to not cheer when one’s team does well. I am merely saying don’t jeer as much when they are doing poorly.

Yes, athletes are paid a lot of money to do what they do and very few people are as skilled at those sports. But those high paid athletes are also husbands, fathers, sons, daughters, wives, etc.

I have mentioned before how much I cringe when I attend a game and see a father teaching their son or daughter how to heckle an opposing player.  The next time you find yourself inclined to do that consider how you would feel if you were on the field and someone was saying that to you. Better still picture your son or daughter as a professional athlete and think about what it would be like to have them heckled.

I don’t buy the whole athletes have thick skin argument. They are flesh and blood just like the rest of us. The only difference is they can run and hit faster and further than the rest of us.

Time will tell what becomes of the Houston Texans this season and I certainly hope to avoid rabid fans as I go about my daily life but something tells me things will only get crazier. I just hope that they don’t turn violent.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a craving for some cheese and saltine crackers for some reason.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

 

Two Sides of Sportsmanship on Display This Week

Earlier this week the baseball world was rocked by the news that former National League MVP Ryan Braun basically lied repeatedly regarding his use of performance enhancing drugs. Braun was suspended for the rest of the year and people started wondering whether he could ever regain the respect of the Milwaukee Brewers fans when he does return next season.

Normally this type of admission would carry through for the entire week in the media as the sports world anxiously awaits news of the next stars to fall. But a funny thing happened Wednesday night to help restore one’s faith in the fact that not all of the baseball players are selfish millionaires cheating the system for their own gain.

Of course most rationale people know that there are still many good players taking the field but sometimes it is good to be reminded of such things.

That reminder came in the form of the reaction to a gruesome injury at the New York Mets ballpark that had been the sight of the All Star Game earlier in the month.

The Atlants Braves were dealt a blow Wednesday night when pitcher Tim Hudson broke his ankle. The response after that occurred showed there are still good players left in the game during a week where much of the news centered on suspensions for cheaters. Photo R. Anderson

The Atlanta Braves were dealt a blow Wednesday night when pitcher Tim Hudson broke his ankle. The response after that occurred showed there are still good players left in the game during a week where much of the news centered on suspensions for cheaters.
Photo R. Anderson

While covering first base on a routine play that he had probably done hundreds of times in his career Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson put a little too much of his foot on first base leaving New York Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr little room to avoid contact with Hudson’s outstretched foot.

Young hit Hudson’s foot at full speed causing it to bend at an angle that feet just aren’t meant to bend. Watching the replay of the contact I knew right away that something bad had happened. While it was not necessarily a career ending injury, it was definitely a season ending injury based on what I saw on the replay.

This assessment of the severity of the injury was not based on extensive study in medical school, although I did take a few seminars in sports medicine, but was based on years of covering games where I had seen countless athletes get hurt.

That firsthand knowledge has allowed me to guess with pretty accurate results the type of injuries and even the sound that is made when the injury occurs. One never forgets the sound broken bones and torn tendons make once you have heard them. They are the type of sounds that are truly haunting.

So, right now you are wondering when I will get to the part about the good news and the sportsmanship element of Wednesday night instead of all of the gory details of what did in fact turn out to be a broken ankle that will require season ending surgery.

The element of sportsmanship comes in the reaction of Young after he realized that Hudson was on the ground in pain.

Young, who was ruled out on the play, went right to Hudson’s side and started consoling him. Even after the team trainers and paramedics arrived, a visibly shaken Young stayed by the side of the fallen Hudson.

Young, a professed Christian, could even be seen rubbing the cross on his chain and saying a prayer for Hudson while the medical staff attended to him.

Once Hudson was placed on the golf chart to make the trip around the warning track that no athlete wants to make Young came up to Hudson and shook his hand and said a few words to him before turning to head into the Mets dugout. On the way to the dugout Young could be seen wiping tears from his eyes.

Now, there was nothing dirty about the play and all of the people saying that Young should have done something to avoid contact with Hudson are deeply diluted. Had Young tried to change course it is quite possible that he would have been the one with an ankle injury instead of Hudson. It was just a freak accident that while rare does happen from time to time.

So instead of blaming Young for the injury people should focus more on his reaction.  After realizing that a fellow competitor was down Young went to his side. That shows the close knit fraternity of baseball that regardless what team name is on the front of the jersey the good players still help each other out.

There is certainly a time to be competitive with one another but as Young showed there is also a time to be compassionate towards one another.

So while I feel bad that it took an injury of this nature to bring it out, and I certainly join others in wishing Tim Hudson a speedy recovery from his injury, it was nice to see the compassion shown by Eric Young Jr. to help restore my faith in the belief that not all of the players on the diamond are self-centered cheaters like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez have shown themselves to be.

I still want to believe, like the younger version of me did, that ballplayers  are by and large good people who can be admired for playing the game the right way but it seems the older I get the harder it is to tell which players are worthy of admiration and which ones should be pitied.

Eric Young Jr. showed he is a player to be admired and hopefully more players took notice and will respond in kind if they are ever placed in the same position.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a trip to the beach to prepare for.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Big Time Fights, They Aren’t Just for Hockey Anymore

The other day I decided to watch the World Baseball Classic game between Mexico and Canada.

Part of the motivation for watching the game was to try to figure out how it was that Team USA lost to the Mexican team the day before. The other motivation was the fact that I had watched Team Canada play in a tournament in St. Petersburg, FL last year.

Members of Team Canada take batting practice during a 2012 exhibition game at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, FL. Photo R. Anderson

Members of Team Canada take batting practice during a 2012 exhibition game at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, FL.
Photo R. Anderson

So as I settled in to watch the game I knew that while there are Major League Players on each of the rosters, the World Baseball Classic plays by international rules which differ from the MLB rules in some areas.

One of those rules involves running up the score when possible to help the run differential numbers.

In most cases running up the score is frowned upon in sports when the lead is well in hand.

In fact, high school and college games include an 11-run mercy rule to help prevent really lopsided scores.

Back when I covered high school baseball I actually found myself rooting for the mercy rule to come into play many a night.

It wasn’t that I wanted a team to lose by that much, but a shortened game meant that I could get back to the office sooner and in theory get the pages on the press earlier. It did not always work out that way but when it did it was uber nice.

So during the Canada versus Mexico game, and with Canada having a very safe lead late in the game, the lead off batter in the eighth inning for Canada dropped down a bunt and reached safely when the third baseman was late to react.

There was nothing inherently dirty about the bunt. As mentioned earlier, the tournament was set up to encourage teams to score as many runs as possible.

Apparently the third baseman for Team Mexico missed that memo and directed the pitcher to deliver a message to the next better.  One international constant in baseball it seems that is understood in every language is the intentional hit batter when a team feels it has been wronged.

So, the pitcher hits the batter in the back, the batter takes offense and starts to charge the mound, and both benches clear and partake in an all out brawl.

Team Canada and the Baltimore Orioles during a 2012 exhibition game. Photo R. Anderson

Team Canada and the Baltimore Orioles during a 2012 exhibition game.
Photo R. Anderson

While not as common as say a fight in hockey, baseball fights do occur now and then. The main catalyst for these fights usually centers on a player getting hit by a pitch.

One of the more absurd elements of these fights for me is the sight of the bullpen pitchers running all the way across the outfield to get to the fight, which in many cases has already ended by the time they arrive to participate.

The fight between the Canadian and Mexican teams was atypical in the fact that it seemed to last a lot longer than most.

Once the teams were finally sent back to their dugouts and the dust had settled, fans of the Mexican team started throwing items into the Canadian team’s dugout.  The most glaring of these being a mostly full water bottle that hit one of the coaches in the head.

Fans were ejected and the game was finally able to continue with Canada advancing and Mexico getting eliminated from the tournament.

While I do not go to a baseball game hoping to see a fight, I know that sometimes emotions run high and tempers flare leading to a dust up like the one at the game the other day.  What I have no patience or sympathy for is unruly fans or people trying to get in on the action by throwing things onto the field.

For the most part athletes are not looking into the stands, except for Alex Rodriguez trying to get phones numbers,  so they are more at risk of not seeing items flying in their direction.  These projectiles falling from a long distance can create serious injury.

The fan mob mentality of throwing things is not limited to American soil. Soccer is known for the massive riots that erupt oversees. And many of those riots end with people being killed.

Seriously, people it is just a game. And there will be other ones so there is no need for people to lose their lives over it.  Also, in many of those riots it is innocent people that end up paying with their lives over the action of a few.

I have had the opportunity to go to several sporting events that have included Canadian fans, both hockey and baseball. And by and large they are some of the most well behaved and considerate fans I have ever been around in terms of stadium etiquette.

Even when they are “heckling” the other team it seems polite and never rises to the level of personal attacks. Now, I am sure that there are bad Canadian fans, just like there are good and bad fans anywhere, but I have yet to see them.

My point is not to say that fans cannot get emotional about their teams. Quite the opposite healthy passion for one’s team is at the very heart of sports. What I am saying is that it is possible to be passionate and polite at the same time.  If you don’t believe me just try sitting next to some Canadians some time.

Now if you’ll excuse me all of this talk about Canada has me in the mood to watch some Bob and Doug McKenzie movies.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson