Hey Grove, it's been a while!
Branson was fun and I learned so much, but it's good to be home. While I thought that it would be slower in Grove than it was up in the live country music capitol, I was wrong. Pleasantly wrong, as so many of our Ridgerunner teams competed in Regionals and State, keeping me hopping until this week.
As I returned to the position of Sports Editor at the Grove Sun, there was one moment that really struck me.
It was during the Regional Baseball Tournament, held here in Grove. Our team was playing the Checotah Wildcats. Checotah's pitcher had been keeping an eye on the Grove runner who was edging towards second. A late throw to the first baseman, allowed the runner to beat the ball and slide back into first base.
A voice from Grove's dugout called out, "That probably wasn't his best" and the rest responded with, "It probably was". The scenario made me chuckle. Normal cheering for a sporting event, or so I thought.
Next to me on the fence was an older gentleman decked out in Checotah athletic wear. "What is this?" he muttered. "I see we've got ourselves a softball team over there."
My eyebrows shot up. No, not because I am a woman and it was a bit derogatory, but because I was so taken aback at his seething anger. I realized that he was just mad that he was losing and his way of dealing was to berate the team who was currently winning.
Poor sportsmanship can come in many forms, including bashing those that you are competing against. Sure, it can feel good to spit something out in the moment, but what good does it do, really?
If you're an athlete who can't control your language, it can earn you a technical in basketball, resulting in loss of ball control and two free throws for the opposing team. In football, it can cost you some yards, something you just can't afford to give up.
Admittedly, I have let my anger get the best of me in a few games, resulting in poor sportsmanship. I've punched a girl in the mouth during a game. I still have the scar from her braces. Yes, I got a technical. Was it worth it? No. But every time I see that scar, I am reminded of that poor choice.
Once I got so frustrated during a summer ball game that I just ran circles around my defender. No, I wasn't stepping up my game and being impressive, I was running literal circles around her. It made my teammates and fans cheer their socks off. To this day I have no idea why, but the choice to funnel my anger into tiny laps around my defender encouraged my teammates and we won the game.
Another summer tournament had us playing the same team for a third time. We knew we were going to lose, they were faster, better shots and better coached. But instead of getting angry, we just decided to have fun. We cheered incessantly, much like Grove's baseball team, and it angered the other team, who was up by thirty points. They finally burst into laughter over how ridiculous they were being. It was the weirdest game I've ever played in.
My parents always taught me the Bambi rule, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". This September I'll turn thirty and I still live by this rule. It's always better to clam up, take a few deep breaths and a few minutes to collect yourself.
It's okay to get frustrated and angry during sporting events. It's not okay to berate, bash or punch people because you can't control those emotions.
Sports are supposed to be fun. Even if you don't win, knowing you did your best and you took the high road is still a pretty decent win in most people's books.
Moral of the story: don't let your anger lead you to poor sportsmanship and poor decisions.
Keep on cheering, fellas in the Grove dugout.