January 28, 2018
Our local schools are in the midst of winter sports season. Basketball teams are busy with their daily practice routines. When teams aren’t in training, they are on a bus traveling to play games against the other schools listed on their schedules. School sports is a time for our students to learn how to play fair and get along with others.
I haven’t been to the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) sports event for a couple of years. One memory I have of LNI is how poorly the adults behave during games played in the Civic Center. For instance, one year I sat in an area where I didn’t know anyone to watch a boys’ basketball game. It was a big mistake.
After the game got underway, I was soon appalled at the bad behavior of the adults. They were booing and shouting at the referees. Many had no shortage of cuss words as they discussed amongst themselves what was happening on the court. I spoke out, to no one in general and loud enough for many to hear, about how we were supposed to model good sportsmanship, but no one listened. I left the game at halftime.
I was horribly embarrassed for those high school basketball players. They were out there trying to enjoy themselves at what might have been the biggest event in their life, yet they had to listen to their parents and other relatives holler around and belittle the officials. The loud booing was terrible. Those adults brought shame to their family, school, community and tribe.
Not much has changed. In fact, the bad behavior modeled by parents and other relatives is often magnified when the team is playing on their home court. There are also many coaches who model bad behavior. Some of you are grandparents, yet you still act like angry, undisciplined children at basketball games.
As adults, we are role models no matter what we do. Some of you reading this will think “I never asked to be a role model.” Well it’s time to wake up folks because the behavior you engage in determines the type of role model you are. You’re in denial if you believe your behavior affects no one but you. You are teaching your children how to act.
Our children will behave in the same manner we do when they are adults. For example, some of those parents (and coaches) who’ve modeled poor sportsmanship at LNI now have grown children acting the same way. It’s to be expected that the grandchildren of that negative role model grandpa or grandma will also be booing and hollering at the referees when they are the adults.
I’ve got to emphasize how embarrassing your bad behavior is to many people. When you act up at a game and scream at the referee or boo at the other team, you are showing us what kind of person you really are.
Many people make a conscious choice to carry around their anger. For example, many of our people do nothing to process and let go of their anger. So, it’s to be expected that the anger surfaces when they are sitting in the bleachers watching their children or grandchildren’s team play a losing game.
The repressed anger comes out and is inappropriately directed at the referee. Or their repressed anger might be directed at the other team’s coach. Or the coach is directing repressed anger at the officials. Or maybe adults are having a heated discussion, full of cuss words, with a family member about how much they don’t like the star player of the other team. It’s so inappropriate.
So, the next time you want to show off your bad behavior at an elementary, middle or high school sports event, please remember all those young, impressionable minds watching you. Your actions show them how to behave. Please don’t be surprised when your children and grandchildren grow up to act in a way that brings embarrassment to your family.
I really empathize with all of our young, smart, talented athletes. I also feel for the game officials and some school coaches. The coaches have to answer pointed questions asked by young, impressionable players about the poor sportsmanship modeled by the adults.
It’s especially inappropriate to behave badly at elementary and middle school games. Those small children are being giving a lesson on how to behave when they are grown-ups. Please act appropriately!
Our children play these games to learn how to be a good sport. They play to learn skills that will help them get along with other people. Adults who behave badly must stop and think about who is watching. Bad behavior at a public event is conduct unbecoming Lakota people.
Our children watch everything we do. The children you are responsible for usually grow up to be just like you. Please model positive encouragement for the players at games, don’t be that embarrassing adult throwing a tantrum at public sporting events.
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