By Pat Brozynski

No sportmanship banner will hang in this gym

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Whatever happened to the emphasis on sportsmanship in high school sports?

The boys volleyball season is not even a week old and already I have been appalled by some of the antics I have witnessed on the court this season. Somewhere along the way, the word "sportsmanship" has been erased from the vernacular.

This is not an indictment of all teams. The majority seem to grasp the concept that you celebrate with restraint and with class. Most coaches would not tolerate the kind of behavior I witnessed. Most officials would not either (I hope).

Certainly, you would never see this kind of behavior in girls volleyball. As one coach who was equally stunned as I said afterward, "Girls care too much about each other to treat each other like that."

But when a teenager stands hands on hip staring across the net for an inordinate time after winning a point like some NBA "goon" staring into the camera after "posterizing" an opponent, when a team breaks into a coordinated celebration of a spike bouncing off the head of the opponent, when team members fall to their knees ala Brandi Chastain after winning the World Cup to celebrate just one point, the line of class and sportsmanship has been crossed.

This is the third year of the IHSA's "Do What's Right!" program. Maybe everybody did not get the memo. But here are the five expectations for IHSA schools, players and fans:

To represent their school and community well with positive interaction with opposing fans and players.

To use positive yells, chants, songs or gestures.

To display modesty in victory and graciousness in defeat.

To respect and acknowledge the integrity/judgment of officials.

To exhibit positive behavior with opponents and fans before, during and after the contest.

What I witnessed recently was neither modest nor positive. Frankly, it was embarrassing. Perhaps somebody needs that concept explained to them as well.

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4 Comments

There is way too much celebrating i.e. taunting going on in volleyball and it's getting worse and worse and younger and younger. From the teams that act like they are taking a picture, to an entire team of girls that pretended to be bowling pins and knocked over by another player. It's out of control. It started and club and has seeped into the high school teams. You don't taunt someone after making a three point shot, or getting a rebound. Because a net separates two volleyball teams, it seems all sense of common sense and decency goes right out the window.

All of the things you described as terrible acts of character after scoring really seemed quite minor to me. In volleyball, anything to get your team going is understood to be fine by most players. In the small close knit sport that boys volleyball is, everyone seems to know everyone. I can't tell you how many times I have played a team where they have been obnoxious and over the top, but after the game players always come up to each other and exchange kind words because it is understood that momentum is everything and any edge a team can get will pay off. I have no problem with celebrations and more times than not, the people whose celebrations seem over the top end up being great friends off the court. I would say that you shouldn't look to far into this because I would say if you ask most current and former players it is not that big of a deal.

You have never been more correct here. It is one thing to high five your team members but taunting and stare downs have no room on the court for boys volleyball. Coaches should pull the players involved and referee's should make it very clear before each match that this behavior will not be tolerated. "Do it Right" needs some teeth in order to nip this issue in the bud before it spins out of control. Volleyball is too fine a game for this behavior to continue. IHSA act now. Sportsmanship matters !!!

So by your logic, referee's should take more control of on court behavior by throwing cards? Like, for example, the player from Minooka at the WWS tourney last night who got a yellow card from the ref because he didn't roll the ball under the net fast enough? Is that where we want to go with this? I am not saying that the boys should be allowed to do whatever they feel like. But they are competing and I believe that we are getting TOO soft in athletics in this country. Plus, in my 25 years of athletics, those players that focus on on-court antics tend to be less successful. The top athletes and competitors are to focused on the match and competing to waste time with those silly things.

My concern is like what I have seen in the recent past, the ref's decide to take too much control and start throwing cards for things that should never be carded for..i.e. Minooka's player. Be careful what you wish for...the top athletes gravitate towards intense competitive sports, that's why we are lacking the number of top athletes playing this sport here in Illinois. They view it as only a girls sport. Weak and whimpy. Let's let boys be competitive, but teach them the appropriate ways to react. Not hit them with more rules and regulations to control them.

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on March 25, 2010 1:01 PM.

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