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Cheering an Injury

At a recent Kansas City Chiefs NFL game, an incident occurred that sparked a lot of national attention. The Chiefs starting quarterback, Matt Cassell, who has not played well this year was injured during a play against the Baltimore Ravens. Cassell was knocked hard to the ground and appeared to have a head injury, which was later diagnosed as a concussion. While on the ground, it appeared that numerous fans were cheering about his injury, hoping that the Chiefs would bring in backup quarterback, Brady Quinn, to take Cassell’s place. Quinn did replace Cassell, and after the game for several days the Chiefs fans were criticized for cheering his injury. Immediately after the game, Chiefs offensive tackle, Eric Winston, was interviewed, and stated that he was never more embarrassed to be in a game than to have the fans cheer for a player being injured. He said it was the lowest point of his career as a football player. A few days later, I was at a 13 year old youth soccer game and saw one player get injured on a play. Players on the other team yelled some insulting comments at him while he was down. One young man even made some degrading remarks about the injured player’s toughness. Both of these situations made me think about fans behavior at games and how this behavior is often modeled by younger athletes. Booing at sporting events has always been part of the game experience at the professional, collegiate and high school levels. Usually, it is in response to a penalty by the officials or a poor display of sportsmanship by a player. However, it seems to that not just booing, but showing a lack of respect is now becoming something fans at all games feel is acceptable behavior. I witnessed this watching my two sons, who are now in their early 20’s, play sports through high school and continue to see it get worse as I attend numerous youth sporting events. I believe the major issue comes down to a lack of RESPECT. Young people emulate their role models, usually their parents, older siblings, teachers, coaches and especially professional athletes. I have spoken many times over past newsletters about why I feel sportsmanship needs to be taught and should not only be a priority for the athletes, but for the coaches and parents. Obviously, when a fan pays money for a ticket at a sporting event, they feel they have the right to express themselves, whether by booing or cheering. However, cheering when a player is injured, in my opinion, shows a lack of respect, not just for the injured player but for you as well. I feel coaches at the youth sports level should not just encourage appropriate sportsmanship by their athletes, but by the parents and themselves. As part of their preseason meeting, I believe coaches should discuss the issue of respect, not just for your teammates, but for opponents and officials. Sports should be about the experience of having fun and pushing yourself to see what you can do. It is a much better experience when competitors and fans alike are able to show respect for the performances that are displayed.

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