A few days ago someone from my hometown posted an article on facebook that was written about my hometown by a "sports editor" (SE) from an opposing teams town. It was our first high school game of the season and it was an away game. It was about a 2 hour drive to this town and yet quite a few parents and fans made the trip to support our kids and start the season right. I was to say the least shocked when I read this article to find that the (SE) said nothing about any of the players, gave no highlights of the game (other than to indicate that they had beaten us) and did not even give a final score to the game. What this (SE) did do though, was bash my hometown, our high school team and the fans throughout the entire article. So how is that sports writing?
To back up and give you the big picture, the catalyst for this story (according to the SE) was that two "fans" from our side went up and criticized the guy announcing the game over the PA system. The (SE) described one of these women as someone who could be cast as the Wicked Witch if the Wizard of Oz was ever made into another movie and he indicated that these women were hateful and abusive as they verbally attacked the poor announcer. Apparently the (SE) sat in the announcers box and watched the entire incident. After reporting on the unflattering encounter though, he continued to berate my town and our fans. He indicated that this behavior was the result of sour grapes due to the fact that we were losing. He then said that it wasn't fair to "judge" a town by a couple of fans but then he continued on with the bashing. Apparently we weren't cheering our boys on like we should have been and it seems that one of the irate fans thought that the announcer was saying that the opposing team was kicking our teams ass and she thought that a little out of line. What he apparently was saying was SEK (South East Kansas) kicking. Once he realized though that our fans thought he was saying "ass-kicking" he said SEK kicking every chance he got. His final jab at my hometown as a whole was that he was sure we were a fine drinking and gambling Mecca referring to the Casino built several miles outside of town. It was a back handed insult and the last straw for many who read his column.
My original take on the article was who is this guy and when did this kind of thing start passing as sports writing? I then wondered who these women were that so viciously attacked the announcer and why did they do it? My final question was.....did this really even happen and if it did, what was the side of the story that he didn't write about?
As anyone who knows me knows......my filter has so many holes in it that trying to reign in what I was thinking and feeling about this article was futile. The (SE) ended his column by inviting emails and remarks and I wasted no time typing one and sending it. His reply...."Thank you for reading." You could literally feel the smugness come through the computer. I knew I had played into his hands and stroked his over inflated ego. To him....bad attention is better than no attention at all and I am sure he was delighted. I also know that I was not the only one who fed his ego that night.
Yesterday facebook was still abuzz with the article and people posting their replies. There were those that immediately took the article at face value and jumped on the two women who started it all. There were others that felt making waves was not the way to go. Some felt we simply needed to ignore it and others tried to play devil's advocate and express why said (SE) might have written what he did. Then one of the women who was responsible for "verbally attacking" the announcer talked to me and gave a little bit different version of the story that the (SE) published. I think her side needs to
be told as well.
I have known this woman since she was born. Yes, I am that old. She is the mother of 5 and a staunch supporter of our hometown sports. As you can imagine she has kids playing in some sport year round. Her oldest son is a senior this year and is on the team. She and other team members family's along with some fans made the trek to this other town to support the team. It was the first game of the season and our boys were not playing as good as they could have, but the fans were cheering them just the same. However, it was doubtful that the boys could hear over the announcer and the PA system. The system was so loud that the bleachers were vibrating each time the announcer spoke, which apparently was.....constantly. It seemed the announcer was more enamored with his own voice than he was with what was actually going on with the game. The fans could not even talk to each other at a yell because they were drowned out by his voice. Still, they tried to cheer but knew it was lost in a sea of the announcers "commentating." Because of the loudness of the system itself, much of what he was commentating on was coming out garbled and distorted. This is where the confusion on him saying SEK kicking as opposed to ass kicking came in. All our fans literally heard ass kicking and were appalled that a commentator would say such a thing at a high school game. Then the commentator announced that maybe if our fans would cheer some that our boys might not be losing. That was it. When half time came it was decided that maybe the commentator didn't realize just how loud the system was on our side so someone should go tell him. So the young woman who I have known since birth and who I also know doesn't have a confrontational bone in her body, went up to the box amongst stares from the opposing team and knocked on the glass. At first she was ignored and then signaled to go sit down. She stood strong and finally was asked what she wanted. She asked if there was anyway the system could please be turned down. She was met with rudeness, which she countered with the thought that maybe if they couldn't turn it down, then he might not commentate incessantly. It seems that our "friendly" commentator could dish it out but not take it. Tempers were starting to flare. The young woman then said, "And by the way, was it necessary you saying that your boys were giving our boys an ass kicking?" He immediately corrected her and told her it was SEK and not ass and then let her know if our fans actually cheered our boys on that maybe they would be more inclined to win. IT WAS ON!!! You don't tell a mom who has spent the better part of the last 12 years chauffeuring kids from practice to games, sitting out in the worst weather imaginable, constantly washing uniforms and doing everything possible to support the schools, the team and the kids that she is not cheering them on. Lets just say an unflattering word flew from her mouth during the exchange in which she apologized immediately. All the while this was happening, our friendly neighborhood (SE) sat next to the announcer and laughed. When the exchange was over the young woman took her seat but apparently another fan, an older lady who is a grandma to the core also went up to talk to the announcer. She stepped into the box and as many grandma's do she put her hand on his shoulder to bend down and speak to him. Before a word came out.....the announcer had her thrown out for pushing him. Again....the (SE) was sitting there engulfed in mirth at the whole scene. What was noticed was during the second half of the game the PA system on our side was completely shut off and the game announcing could be heard just fine without the distortion coming form the other sides speakers. Our boys could also now hear their parents and fans cheering for them. It seemed like the whole incident might have resulted in a win for those who came to cheer our boys on.
Okay....should the young woman have lost her temper. No! She knew it too. However it was pretty obvious that she had pissed the announcer off and he goaded her to see how far she would go. Would I have done the same thing had I been in her shoes? Likely someone would have to have ended up posting my bail from an SEK jail. Should she have apologized for her behavior....(I am talking abut the expletive word)? Yes, for everything else....not a chance. Her actions made it so that the second half of the game was at least enjoyable and she did what any good mom does, she stood up for her son and his team. You go girl!
Now on to our one sided (SE) and his fairy tale column that has nothing to do with sports. It was suggested to me by someone that sports writers today write columns about other things and throw a little sports into them from time to time. This (SE) according to a retired writer was obviously going for the humor. Fine. So he should be a (SE) for a big paper or perhaps the title gossip columnist would better suit him. However when you are writing a sports column for a small town newspaper, shouldn't your focus be on the game, the players and the score? Parents want to see their kids name in print, especially if they scored the winning touchdown or ran umpteen yards. Those fans that couldn't attend want to see highlights and a final score. THAT is small town sports writing.
To be honest though, there was far more that concerned me about this article than just some nasty backhanded playground name calling. We are living in a world where kids are showing less and less respect for themselves and others. Bullying is becoming a national pass time and people are being sent the message not to speak up when they see an issue but to keep still and ignore it. Kids take their lessons from adults and how adults handle situations. If people of authority are rude, hateful and nasty, chances are the kids watching will follow suit. If adults bully through exclusion, superiority, rude and hateful comments or sit behind a computer and write berating articles full of factual holes, kids are going to take their cues from that and they will also bully in similar ways. And if people continually choose not making waves over standing up for what is right and standing up against those that try to bully....then they are as much to blame for the societal problems we have as the ones doing the bullying.
Sports are a team building exercise that are suppose to teach our kids how to work together, work hard, respect themselves and their skills and respect those both on their team as well as those on other teams. It is life lesson 101 on how the real world works. It is left to parents, coaches and even (SE) to set the example for these kids. This (SE) did the complete opposite. What he showed his town and their kids and fans was that bullying, name calling and insulting an opposing team is okay. Even funny and definitely acceptable. He showed no integrity as a journalist, as a fan or as an adult in the community that kids look up to. If this (SE) had been so offended by our two fans, why did he just sit there and laugh as his announcer goaded the first lady and had the second lady removed under false pretenses? Why did he not show some integrity, take a stand then and there and tell them that they would lower the PA system (obviously that was in his power) and diffuse the whole situation? Instead he chose to call the two ladies "bad apples" meanwhile he acted as the poisonous worm trying to cause bad blood between two towns.
Perhaps I am just old school but something such as this should be addressed....not because I care what one little ego maniac (SE) thinks about my town, but because he chose to put it in print and pass on information as fact which held very little truth at all. This individual needs to be taken to task because he is perpetuating negativity, bad sportsmanship and yes....bullying by his very actions. And lets not forget..... he calls himself a (SE) but didn't even report the final score. I personally think if I were his employer, I might just have to give him an SEK kicking and look for a real sports editor for my paper.