In the Morning Sentinel's (Waterville, Main) article, Respect drives high school sports by staff writer Gary Hawkins, I fully expected a piece focused on the importance of "respect" in high school sports. With a title like that, this would be the most logical conclusion. However, Gary takes it a step further through some solid, and necessary, "unsolicited advice" to all involved - participants, coaches, parents, and spectators.
With regard to participants, he emphasizes how significant, and essential, learning how to work together as a group is to a team's success and that your sport "is not all about you" (both in individual and team sports) citing LeBron James and Brett Favre as less than stellar examples of this concept.
Gary also places ownership right where it should be, on the athlete themselves, when things don't seem to pan out or one feels they are being treated unfairly. In his words, "If you have a problem, go through the chain of command, starting with the team captain and then the coach, instead of crying to mom and dad first." And I especially like the weight he places on academics, something every student athlete needs to keep in mind
In addressing parents, his focus centers on their role as supporters not as critics - from my perspective, that is the coach's job anyway, and to get involved in the youth sports experience but less intrusively. High school teams are always looking for help with concessions, booster clubs, raising funds, or any number of available positions. As a high school teacher, and former coach, I am aware of the shortage of volunteers.
For those coming to watch and enjoy the game and/or competition, his advice needs to be echoed across youth sports fields everywhere, "Just channel your enthusiasm toward your team. When you scream at officials, coaches or opponents, you not only set a bad example, you also look like a jerk." It boggles my mind to read about, and see firsthand (as I have on many occasions), the improper, unsportsmanlike, and sometimes unethical, behavior that comes from spectators. Sure, emotions can run high, especially when your own kid is on the field; however, it is always prudent to consider what's best and most respectful for the kids and the game.
And Gary even has a word or two for coaches and other responsible school personnel, "you are role models to the athletes you coach as well as people in the community." Yep, couldn't agree more with this as well.
Great advice Gary!!! It is nice to see someone in the sports media encourage more positive behavior from within our youth sports community.