A zero-tolerance approach to bad sportsmanship

Published 6:28 pm Monday, June 24, 2019

Booking agents in all sports are having a hard time finding people who want to officiate. This has become a problem across all of North Carolina and rapidly throughout our great country. It is not because of a lack of desire to officiate but rather because of the lack of sportsmanship showed during any athletic contest by parents, players and coaches.

This problem has caused the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (the governing body for high school athletics) to take a zero-tolerance approach to this problem. Poor sportsmanship will not be tolerated and serves a severe punishment if it is! The biggest problem is that it does not govern outside leagues where most of the problems exist. Why is this so important?

With summer leagues in many sports underway, we need to have good role models as coaches and parents. The example that our kids see from us will only filter down to them, and will remain as they grow older. They will be the same as the examples we display for them. I do understand that when you think your child is hurting, it hurts you but most of the time, your child understands better than you. This poor behavior will only carry over to the high schools when they compete in their respective sports. No coach wants a player or a player’s parents that display this kind of behavior. Please listen to my advice.

Parents and players are not the only elements involved this type of behavior. Coaches who demonstrate poor sportsmanship should be banished. They only incite their fans and players. Officials are human, and their judgement is not always correct, but they are right most of the time. I will urge all coaches to please disagree in the right manner if there is a problem. Coaches, you will never win arguing with an official, and your reputation will only follow you. Do not penalize your team because of your poor reputation.

I love athletics and the values it teaches a person. Let us all try to keep athletics in the proper perspective and let it help our youth of today. Nowhere is there a better tool to teach our kids the lessons in failure and success than the athletic fields. In my 45 years as a coach and athletic director, I have seen this problem grow. I appeal to you — Mom, Dad and coaches — to let us all not embarrass our children by displaying poor sportsmanship at their games. They are totally embarrassed and sometimes drawn to tears. Is this what we want?

I thank athletics and the lessons taught between two white lines and the good role models I had growing up. With age comes wisdom, in many ways.

Harold Robinson, Jr. is a former coach and athletic director.