Rare Occasions
Rare Occasions
Blog: From the Director, Sportsmanship
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2017

On the rare occasions when a high school athletic event in Michigan is interrupted or ended prematurely because of a breakdown in proper sportsmanship, I remind myself that there were hundreds of other high school athletic contests that same day that were conducted with good sportsmanship and without problems. It is because bad incidents are so very rare that they make news.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association doesn't assign officials to administer any regular-season contests; but we do receive reports from officials, school administrators and many others when problems occur, some offering opinions that go viral with incomplete information and snap judgments.

In a recent case, three veteran and respected officials were assigned to a league crossover game between two talented basketball teams. The atmosphere was poisoned by a public address announcer who was subsequently removed from that role by the school district after he not only performed those duties in an inflammatory and biased way, but also pursued and provoked one of the officials who had halted the game after an object was hurled from the crowd. That official worsened the situation when he pushed this individual; and the subsequent behavior of host team members and spectators was deplorable and dangerous.

The official is not the villain here, but an individual human being who has enjoyed the avocation of sports officiating for many years with good success and support. I'm sure he wishes he could take back the split second of his fear or anger that has been shown on video worldwide.

The host school has not been blind to several things it could do, in addition to appointing a different PA announcer, to improve the atmosphere of its athletic events; and it has already demonstrated its intent to provide a better experience for all involved in the future. It is contributing to the many thousands of athletic contests that build character in school sports for every one contest that lets us down.

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