Think before criticizing athletes

Published 6:16 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

East Carolina Chancellor Cecil Staton came out with a statement last week ahead of the Pirates’ game against Virginia Tech. He spoke out against blaming the players for the team’s 0-3 start. A lot of the criticism wasn’t directed at the players so much as the coaching staff and the athletic department.

Regardless, it’s a good message. If going out and being competitive on the football field — or soccer field, basketball court, volleyball court, etc. — was easy, then everyone would be out there. It’s tough to go out and execute, especially against the kind of competition ECU has faced.

Athletes at any level put in a ton of work just to get to the point where they can even compete. ECU, for example, has been working toward this season since the spring. That effort hasn’t yet manifested itself in success on the field. It’s not because they aren’t trying. Virginia Tech, James Madison and West Virginia were all better prepared to face the Pirates.

The same could be said of Beaufort County’s high school teams. Washington’s season has been a rocky one thus far. The Pam Pack has just one non-conference win over the past two seasons. Even so, the players and coaches worked tirelessly toward this season. They’ve been putting in countless hours each week to prepare for their Friday-night opponents.

This goes for Northside and Southside, as well. The Seahawks are 4-1 and the Panthers have two wins heading into conference play. They’ve both worked plenty hard, and that effort has yielded wins.

Fans often only see the product on the football field. It’s impossible to assess the amount of preparation simply from watching a team on game day. That said, it’s unfair to make assumptions about the effort level simply from what’s presented during a game.

Is it wrong for fans to be upset about losses? Of course not. However, do take some time to think about all the work that goes on behind the scenes before criticizing any athlete for not trying enough.