Inevitably, Harrison wants to come in and give me his version of a "Sportscenter recap" of the game. I have noticed a troubling trend in his recaps. Every game (this is not an exaggeration) Harrison has talked about the behavior of the crowds as much as he has about the game itself. There have been unsportsmanlike chants, throwing of items, "moonings", and the use of extreme language. The last game even required a police escort for referees leaving the gym.
So, last night on the way to church, I questioned Harrison about the behavior of these fans (not just from his high school but it seems like every opponent as well). He and a neighborhood kid that we take to church on Wednesdays began to recount Tuesday's game and the fan behavior. Then, an alarming statement came out of Harrison's mouth that was confirmed by the other boy. "Dad, that's just what fans are supposed to do. They are supposed to get on the ref and ride the other team."
Yikes! Since last night, I have thought about that statement (I quickly corrected the boys last night as we rode). Is this what we are teaching our kids...that appropriate behavior for a fan is to cuss vehemently at an official, even to the point of requiring police escorts? Maybe a harder question to answer is this, am I the reason Harrison believes this? Or is this a cultural thing that our society is teaching our children?
Don't get me wrong. I have been known to challenge a call or to "talk loudly" at the TV while watching my teams play. (Lisa would call it yelling but we all know that pastors don't do that). In my coaching days, I would stand my ground with officials when I felt like they were missing calls. But, I've always made a point to "reconcile" with them afterwards by thanking them and letting them know I appreciated their work (I've also spent many hours as the official in games from little league to college intramurals. I know what that feels like).
I clicked on the sports page this morning as the thoughts were still churning. I read as fan after fan blamed poor outcomes on officials, poor coaching and unfair conditions. While I, as a dad, have to take responsibility for my behavior, I think we all have a responsibility to think about our actions. Beyond just officials, I'm afraid our kids are learning that it is cool to question authority and even cooler if you can make those authority figures look like fools, all in the name of coming out on top. I see it every time I visit kids at the local school to do my mentoring. Even the prestige of being President of the U.S. no longer exempts you from the public ridicule.
If you are a teacher, coach, official, youth minister...you get the idea...you deserve better than bad behavior from poorly taught children. You deserve the respect that comes from bearing your title. You deserve to be treated as a human being. You deserve better than what I hear coming from the stands at the local high school. I'm one dad who is willing to try and make a difference. I just hope I'm not too late in demonstrating to my kids...it's just a game.
In the future, I hope I can scream "Go Dawgs!" without having to discredit myself with poor behavior. And, in some small way, maybe we can rebuild a culture where teens respect the wisdom that comes from age and experience.
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Hebrews 13:17
32 “‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God Leviticus 19:32