NEWS BLOG (WSAU) I’ve spent the fall and winter covering high school sports, so I’m probably more in-tune with issues of sportsmanship than I have been in the past.
Two national youth-sports issues were in the news last month. In British Columbia, a youth hockey coach is facing criminal charges for intentionally tripping an opposing player during the post-game handshakes. In Minnesota, a high school hockey goalie, upset about his lack of playing time, intentionally put the puck in his own net, raised his middle-finger to his bench, and skated off the ice.
I’ve covered nearly 50 high school sporting events so far this year, and have not seen a single instance of bad sportsmanship. Of course, something may happen on the field-of-play that I’m not aware of in the broadcast booth. But, to a rule, athletes from the competing team have lined-up to shake hands after each game.
Stevens Point’s girls basketball team celebrated wildly when they beat D.C. Everest to win their conference championship. If I was on the losing team, I wouldn’t have felt good about it – but celebrating your team’s success isn’t bad sportsmanship to the losers. Oshkosh-North sent a huge contingent of students and parents to last weekend’s sectional finals. Their team won – and they were rowdy during the game (similar to Duke basketball fans), but I don’t think they were bad sports. I saw the D.C. Everest hockey team tie Antigo on a penalty shot with 2-second left, and won the same game in triple-overtime on another penalty shot, and the teams and coaches still congratulated each other and shook hands after a game that no one will ever forget.
Many high school winter sports athletes have seen their seasons come to an end. Congratulations to all over them who represented themselves and their schools by being good sports.
P.S. – A special note about the D.C. Everest girls basketball team, which has been my favorite team to cover so far. Players and parents have openly said that a year ago, they didn’t work together as a team. Some players weren’t friendly. Others played for themselves; more concerned about individual stats than whether the team won or lost. That changed this year. Players worked together. They picked each other up when others were down. Everyone agrees that friendships were formed and that those intangibles made the team better.
Players will forget the scores and stats and final records. They’ll remember the experience of playing. Congratulations to those who made this a very positive experience for themselves and their teammates.