On Sunday, Sept. 15th, the New Hope Varsity football team played against Bristol Senior High School at the home stadium field. Bristol’s football team is considered to be the best in the Bicentennial Athletic League, and hasn’t lost to New Hope in over two years. During the game on the 15th, New Hope beat the undefeated team 35-32. Although the win by New Hope was an achievement deserving much celebration, it was not the most surprising aspect of the game.
In the midst of the student section singing and cheering congratulations to our players at the end of the game, multiple adults from the Bristol cheering section stuck up their middle fingers to the student section as they left the bleachers. Not only were the parents taking part in this inappropriate conduct, but the Bristol students as well, sticking up their middle fingers as they past the students. There is absolutely no reason that anyone, especially parents, should be taking part in unsportsmanlike conduct at a high school sporting event where most athletes and students present are still only kids.
Good sportsmanship is required by both the Bicentennial Athletic League and our athletic director, Mr. Harrington for obvious reasons. There have been many incidents in our country when bad sportsmanship has been taken too far. In July of 2000, a 44-year-old father named Thomas Junta beat to death Michael Costin, another father, during an argument over rough play during a youth hockey practice. Although he claimed it was self-defense, Junta received a six to ten year sentence for his crime. This incident exemplifies the painful toll that bad sportsmanship can lead to.
Parents involvement in their children athletics has also been shown to have negative effects on a child’s emotional health. If participation in sports is effective, students have the opportunity to learn about teamwork, hard-work, and stress management. If parents and coaches push their athletes too hard, students can end up with self confidence issues and poor sportsmanship. Students, parents and coaches all must keep this in mind, especially when they are spectating.
We all must remember that these athletic events are simply just games and that maintaining proper sportsmanship is what will allow them to continue in peace. It’s the responsibility of parents, students, and athletes to make sure their competitiveness does not cross the line to disrespect. Most of all, parents should be setting good examples for their children and for the future generations to come, or else we are doomed to copy this conduct and persist this inappropriate behavior, turning athletic events from fun competition into unpleasant interactions.