Kids do listen and watch what adults say, do

Published 6:39 am Saturday, August 25, 2018

By Michael Cole


Fall is almost here, and we know what that means.

Pumpkin spice everything, crisp fall weather, and most importantly, High School Football.

I have to admit; I do not watch a lot of football. I like to follow recaps and look at facts and stats after the game, things like the standings.

I guess being a Notre Dame and Houston Texans fans, I prefer to read about our close losses instead of watching them.

But to me, that is not something I am writing about today.

Sportsmanship and Courtesy.

Something many fans lack.

I grew up attending West Orange-Stark. I am proud of that fact, and will never shy away from it. Given a chance to work there, I would probably take it. I do not believe in the toss away student or the fact that students are so horrible we throw them away.

That too is a subject for another time.

I worked for several years in the Little Cypress-Mauriceville School District. So long at the high school, that I am proud to call myself a Proud Bear as well. Remind me one day to tell you about the fight after school in the Chess Club I sponsored.

Good times, good memories.

What I want to talk about is from my personal experience about behaviors I saw while working at home games for LC-M.

We know the typical atmosphere at the games. Students wandering the undersides of the bleachers there more for their friends than the competition. Much to the chagrin of Administrators and others working at the games trying to herd them back into the bleachers.

People standing in endless lines to pay a buck or two for pizza or hot chocolate, depending on how late into the season.

In no small part, it is a chance for proud parents of students in the Drill Team, Marching Band, the Team, or the Cheerleaders to sit and be proud of their child as they perform for the community as a whole. They cheer when their team does well, and commiserate when they do not.

That leaves us with the “superfans.” And we all know these fans. The ones that have forgotten that these are teens out there playing. They have forgotten that after the final buzzer, it was just a game.

I have many stories about parents and adults that could not remember that this was just a game.

I remember one year, there was some particular bad blood between WOS and LCM. For the life of me, I cannot remember what made that game a little tenser, but the decision made by the powers that be, not to open the gate allowing the visitor side to leave until all the LCM players and support had left the field. The players and fans would have to cross paths otherwise.

The things that were said by a few in the crowd to me since I was doing this to protect teens. I was called a sore loser trying to get even for the Bear’s loss. I heard some adults hurling insults at the Bears Players.

Think about that, adults mentally berating children.

I saw ugliness that made me ashamed for the first time, for both my community and my alma mater.

This might come as a shock to some, but children do listen to us.

They see it when we treat others with disrespect. They see it when we berate someone.

They see it when we are ugly to others for petty reasons.

They see it when we decide that it is okay to choose simple differences as a reason to hate someone.

They see it, and they think it is acceptable.

Now, I know that trash talk will always happen. In DAEP, I did my share of it with the Coach that ran it and his team of Florida State. And the other coaches seemed to enjoy stopping by my desk every Monday in the fall remarking on that latest Notre Dame loss.

Even the principal did once.

But it was always good-natured, and with respect.

But when it crosses that line between harmless ribbing and a sincere attempt at hurting people, it has gone too far.

We should remind them that good sportsmanship is a trait that works on the field and off the field. That hard work and dedication should be applauded. That off the field and after the game, that we are all members of the same community.

And that there is never an excuse to berate someone for as simple reason as they attend another school.

That level of ribbing should be reserved for people that do not think that butterscotch is the best flavor developed by humanity.

Now, ya’ll ready for some football!?