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we’re young, it’s difficult to have perspective on winning and losing.
Winning is so strongly emphasized in our culture, especially in
the media, that it’s the simple angle to take. And a concept easily
grasped by impressionable youth. Good guys vs. bad guys. White hats
vs. black hats. But when that mentality is ingrained early on, how
can we expect people to ever grow beyond it?
an essay titled “End Game,” Pete Hamill talks about the disappearance
of civility in our culture, from politics to sports and everything
in between, and notes that nothing short of annihilating our opponents
has become the American way.
seems infected by the virus of argument and the need for triumph,”
Hamill observes. “No football player can score a touchdown without
following up with some taunting dance in the end zone. Baseball
players can’t endure a knockdown pitch without charging the mound
in retaliation. In all sports, grace is treated like a character
Heat and former Laker Coach Pat Riley fines his players for helping
an opponent off the floor. What kind of message does that send?
boos directed at college athletes really rankles me. I wonder if
the booers (strikingly similar to boors, isn’t it?) ever consider
what the player is thinking or feeling. Do you figure that athletes
want to play poorly? Don’t you imagine they feel badly enough if
their team is getting hammered? How likely is it that the negative
reinforcement of booing will inspire an athlete to perform better?
perception is that most boo-birds are unhappy in their daily lives
and look to release some nastiness at the ball game.
people take out their everyday frustrations at a game, no question,”
confirms Dr. William Parham, chief psychologist with UCLA’s athletic
department. “Fans feel like today’s players are a little bit spoiled,
that they’re pampered. There’s this spoiled-brat mentality that
the public isn’t liking. Of course, the unattractive behavior fans
are identifying in athletes is the very way they’re acting themselves.”