Adults caused me to question the existence of civility.
Luckily, there were kids around to put things back into perspective.
While covering the Lady Badger Holiday Tournament in Lampasas last weekend, I encountered numerous acts of questionable behavior. I witnessed parents rudely bickering in the stands as their children played on the court in front of them, and I heard vulgarities shouted in the direction of officials. It was all rather disturbing.
Nothing, however, was more unsettling than viewing Lorena head coach Rodney Gee rant like a petulant child after a call did not go his way.
With less than a minute remaining in regulation, Class 3A No. 11 Lorena held a slim 36-35 lead against Belton, but an outburst by Gee stole the attention from where it deserved to be.
After an out-of-bounds call was reversed, giving possession to the Lady Tigers, Gee began loudly disputing the call with officials. Meanwhile, the ball was inbounded and Belton scored an uncontested layup, sending Gee into a rage.
He was restrained by assistant coaches on several occasions as he attempted to angrily race toward an official, and eventually received a technical during an ensuing timeout.
The outburst cost his team the game, but I’m sure it cost him even more than that.
I was embarrassed to be in the same gym as this was happening. I felt bad for his players, who were expected to respect a man who possessed less maturity than them.
As a father myself, I would seriously question allowing Gee to remain an influence in my child’s life.
For the remainder of the afternoon, I continued to watch Gee brood, starring down the official as the two crossed paths from time to time as the duration of the tournament played out.
I kept thinking, “How can this guy be a role model for today’s youth?”
I wondered how many other coaches around the country lack the professionalism, decorum and general respect to act in such a manner, while masquerading as a positive example. I thought of all the kids, who see similar behaviors and justify it because it was coming from an authority figure. Just when I began to give up hope on humanity, a group of teenage girls showed me the light.
Sitting across the gymnasium from me, I saw two teams in the stands separated by an isle. One was an Australian traveling team, and the other was Belton.
It did not take long before each of the girls was literally leaning over the aisle, actively interacting with strangers from the other side of the world who just happen to share a common interest.
Laughter filled the gymnasium, causing heads to turn in wonder of what could generate such a reaction. Even from afar, it was obvious every girl hung on the words of the others, listening intently through the odd accents.
Then, I realized the positive connections sports create among people far outweigh the negatives derived from adults, who could use a lesson in the moral responsibilities of being an influence.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org