Coaches are responsible for sportsmanship

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A coach is responsible for preparing a team for games. In football, coaches review schemes and game plan for what the opponent is going to do. Ultimately, it’s up to the athletes to execute these plans on the field, but the practice and strategy beforehand are as important as anything.

This is especially true when it comes to sportsmanship. A coach can’t always help if, for example, a player decides to verbally or physically attack an opposing player. What the coach can help, though, is instilling a code of conduct. A player isn’t going to do anything out of line if he knows the repercussions.

It boils down to setting an example.

Many coaches from Beaufort County’s youth ranks to the high schools do a great job of setting examples for the area’s young athletes. A handful of football fans got to see both ends of the spectrum in Saturday’s 8U semifinal between the Washington Eagles and Greenville Titan Black.

The Washington representatives went into the game with just 12 players. One got hurt and had to be taken to the hospital during the game, leaving the Eagles with no one on the bench. Another injury may have meant forfeiting with a trip to the 8U Super Bowl on the line.

The coaches encouraged the players along the way, and the players responded by competing until the final whistle of a 44-0 defeat.

Greenville, on the other hand, poured it on. The Titans were faster, stronger and had a full lineup. It was clear in the first half that it was their game to lose.

Greenville, sitting on a 22-0 lead, got the ball back with less than a minute left in the first half. The team was set to receive the kickoff in the second half. The coaches could have had the players kneel a few times and run out the clock, taking their already lopsided lead into the intermission.

Instead, they used their last two timeouts and scored another touchdown to make it 30-0 going into halftime. Then the Titans returned the second-half kickoff for yet another score.

The sportsmanship demonstrated by the coaches of that 8U football team was questionable at best. Regardless of opinions and arguments about that approach, it’s hard to say that the example set by Washington’s coaches wasn’t the better one.