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Don’t take the fun out of the game

By Staff
Commentary by KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
One of my favorite aspects of covering high school games on Friday nights is to watch the players exchange high-fives or handshakes following the game.
I firmly believe that sportsmanship is just as important, if not more important, as touchdowns, tackles and trick plays.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association does its best to promote good sportsmanship. I think they do an incredible job, but sometimes its rules may dampen the true spirit of high school football.
One of the most exciting parts of high school football is the fans, especially the “rowdies” who go full tilt to support their team.
There was a student section at the Bellevue Redmen games I used to cover where all the students would be covered in red and/or silver body paint.
I’ve known a few Washington Pam Pack fans who would smear on blue paint in a show of support.
The NCHSAA has banned body paint this year. If you’ve got a large, blue “W” on your stomach, you’ll be asked to cover up, wash it off or go home. It’s that simple.
There’s also been a crackdown on taunting, which sounds good when you first hear about it. NCHSAA officials are supposed to remind coaches prior to each game about what would draw a penalty and/or ejection, such as strutting, posing and back flips.
The National Federation of High Schools established the taunting rule, which sought to eliminate celebrations “intended to embarrass, ridicule or demean others.” Sounds good, right?
Well, the rule can be highly subjective, meaning it’s up to the discretion of the officials to decide exactly what is taunting.
Butler High School receiver Jarrett Boykin was ejected after pointing to the sky while scoring on a touchdown pass. Ray Ray Davis, a receiver at Indian Trail Sun Valley, was ejected after diving into the end zone. Bessemer City’s Quen Allison was ejected after he, too, dove into the end zone.
Boykin said he was pointing to God, not saying that he was “No. 1.” Davis and Allison said they had to dive into the end zone to avoid nearby defenders.
Because of the ejections, the players had to sit out the following game.
I’m totally against a player wagging a finger in another player’s face. I’m totally against unsportsmanlike conduct.
But, please, let these kids have some fun.
The NFL is already robbing its players of having fun. I’m a fan of watching Chad Johnson come up with his creative touchdown celebrations (though the future Hall-of-Fame jacket on the sideline was rather lame, mainly because he couldn’t do it right away in the end zone because of fear of drawing a flag).
Say Travis Daniels breaks off a winning 65-yard run in the fourth quarter and his teammates mob him in the end zone. Is that going to draw a flag?
Please don’t take the fun out of the game.
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Kevin Travis is the sports editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217, or by e-mail at Kevin@wdnweb.com. You may also view his blog, KT’s Take On Sports, at http://wdnsports.blogspot.com.