Home » team of experts » Bad Acts In Youth Sports: First Quarter 2010

Bad Acts In Youth Sports: First Quarter 2010


The worst acts from January to March, 2010 were:

1. This first bad act reflects a larger social trend … or at least we hope that’s all that it is. A Nashville basketball player reacted to a dispute with his coach by threatening to kill the coach … literally! But wait a minute. The player issued the threat on Facebook, writing, "I’ma kill em all." The player was expelled, triggering a debate over whether a threat is really a threat, and whether people who threaten on Facebook are really threatening or just venting. Obviously, the player thinks this is the equivalent of someone getting on the phone with his friend some 30 years ago and saying, "I’m so mad I could just kill the coach." I’m not sure too many people would agree that Facebook is the same as a private phone call in which one blows off steam to one person. The Facebook page sure seemed public since a lot of people could see it. A most intriguing first bad act.

2. Philadelphia’s Math, Civics and Science Charter High School (MCS) blamed racist officials for their loss in the Pennsylvania State playoffs. Some people may feel that publicly airing the charge is unseemly, but hey, who knows, maybe they’ve got a point. After all, you never know. Maybe they’re just poorly articulating a common complaint about State playoffs. You’ve heard it: officials from one locale haven’t seen the style played in another locale, don’t adjust to it, and bad feelings abound. Well, put aside your sympathetic inclinations. It’s hard to feel sorry for MCS when you see that they got seven technical fouls, and the game was called with 13 seconds to go when a MCS player threw the ball into the stands in anger. Oh, by the way, MCS lost by 30 points. They got clobbered. Apparently, this isn’t the first time that MCS played the race card when they lost. They alleged biased officiating a year ago when they got beat in the State playoffs, too. This is a bad act that touches upon broader social issues – like when to play the race card (and you don’t play it when you lost by 30 points).

3. It must have been a bad basketball season in Nashville. In February, Nashville’s Maplewood High lost a game on a buzzer beater. Maplewood blamed the timer, confronted the timer, and hit her. Tennessee High School officials sanctioned Maplewood for poor sportsmanship. They sanctioned Stratford High School, the host school, for not complying with a State rule of providing adequate security. Local headlines stated that there was no security or police at the game. This leads to the question of which is worse: the bad act or the failure to meet one’s obligation to secure against the bad act.

4. In New Jersey, an ejected player came out swinging during the post-game handshake at a high school playoff game. In an interesting side note to this incident, one of the officials was quoted in the newspapers as saying that the ejected player should have been taken to the locker room. No, she shouldn’t; she belonged on the bench. For supervision reasons, ejected high school basketball players are ejected to the bench. The same social forces that lead to the increase in poor sportsmanship make it unsafe to leave a high school athlete unsupervised following an ejection so rulesmakers send ejected high school basketball players to the bench.

5. The New Jersey post-game handshake incident wasn’t the only one. There were post-game handshake fights in Hartford, Ct. and in Greenville, S.C. in February. Both incidents touched off ugly brawls. The Hartford incident resulted in four arrests, and guess who was arrested: yep, four parents. If you want to know why the kids are fighting, ask the parents in Hartford.

In each listing of "bad acts" I will point out a good act, program or organization. In March, Washington D.C.’s Coolidge High School showed some guts. Now, one can dispute whether having guts is the same as showing character or even showing sportsmanship. However, it took guts for Coolidge to hire Natalie Randolph to be its head varsity football coach. I don’t know if Randolph is the first female head varsity football coach, but she’s sure the highest profile female varsity football coach: Washington, D. C. is a big city and Coolidge passed up numerous male applicants. Kudos to Coolidge.