TIM WILDMON: If you’re a fan, be a sportsman

By Tim Wildmon

A new school year has begun, and that means another year of high school sports. And that means another year of a few ignorant fans yelling out things from the stands demonstrating to all within shouting distance just how foolish some people can be.
It happens in all sports at all levels and at all schools – people offering loud, obnoxious and public declarations about what is wrong with a player, coach or team. And most of the time, those yelling the loudest don’t know squat about what happened that led to a bad play on the part of teenage kids trying their best to make their coaches and parents proud.
Let’s take baseball. I don’t know how many times I have heard fans scream out at batters who swing at a ball well out of the strike zone.
“Come on, Johnny, what is wrong with you son!?” someone will yell. Other, more respectful fans will look at each other bewildered.
But what said yeller didn’t know was the coach had called for a “hit-and-run” play which requires the batter to swing in an attempt to put the ball in play and protect the runner going from first to second base. And if the batter had not swung , even though he looked bad reaching for a pitch, it would have been the coach letting the player have it instead of the fans.
In basketball, when the game comes down to the last shot, often the team with the ball will call a timeout to set up a play for their best player. Then when they get on the court the opposing team has all of a sudden changed defenses and the planned play is not there which results in an off balance, wild-looking shot from 25 feet away as time expires.
From the stands it looks like the coach and team didn’t know what they were doing.
“What kind of crazy shot was that?!” a fan will cup his hands, rock back on his heels and scream out.
In football, it can happen many different ways. For instance, the quarterback drops back to pass and throws the ball apparently to no one. The ball bounces off the grass and fans look around at one another asking each other why the quarterback did that. But what the fans in stands didn’t know is that the intended receiver was a ninth grader playing his first high school game and accidentally ran the wrong pattern.
“Time to get that quarterback out of the game, coach!” a fan howls from the stands.
And sometimes players get beat because the guy lining up across him is bigger, stronger and faster. Yes, often teams look bad because the other team is just plain better.
This is not to say that there are not lazy or incompetent coaches. There are. But the vast majority of them, especially at the high school level, are out there because they love the sport, they enjoy teaching kids how to play and then watching them perform on the field or on the court.
These high school football players have been practicing in 100 degree heat since the first of August. Basketball players have been at camps all summer. Softball girls have been putting in endless hours trying to improve. If those who yell barbs from the stands could see the time, energy and effort these coaches and players put into their seasons … I don’t think they would be so quick to pass public judgment on things they often know nothing about.
Community columnist Tim Wildmon is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at twildmon@afa.net.