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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    Go to the game, root for your kid and try not to be a nuisance

    In the spirit of hopeless idealism, I ask the following:

    How about we take the concept of “adult responsibility” to new and higher places for the upcoming high school sports season?

    I know. I’ll prepare to be grossly disappointed now and avoid the holiday rush. But as they sang in “Man of La Mancha,” to dream the impossible dream …

    There are many tentacles to adult responsibility at the games our kids play, starting at the top with an awakening at CIAC to work harder (or at all) at equity and equitable circumstances for all the kids. But for purposes of today’s rantings, I’d like to see adult responsibility morph into a collectively increased obligation to keep the games civil and orderly.

    Oh, the things I’ve seen. Oh, the things I’ve heard. This is year No. 31 for me around here. I fancy myself to be a lot like Carl the Custodian from “The Breakfast Club.”

    “You guys think I'm just some untouchable peasant? Serf? Peon? Well, maybe so,” Carl said in one of the movie’s classic scenes. “But following a broom around after (people) like you, I've learned a couple of things. I look through your letters. I look through your lockers. I listen to your conversations; you don't know that but I do. I am the eyes and ears of this institution, my friends.”

    And as your eyes and ears, let me suggest that I need more company. It’s time more adults took more responsibility. If you see something, say something. Summon a security team member or a police officer. Lest we forget there are kids out there on the courts and fields looking to us for guidance.

    You know. Guidance. That old thing.

    Last year was a disaster. Among the lowlights: I saw adults leave the bleachers during a basketball game to participate in the chaos that had ensued on the court, ending the game early. I saw pushing and shoving among adults at a boys’ lacrosse game. An adult security team member cursed out the officials after a controversial ending to a basketball game.

    I saw mouthy adults lead to an ugly postgame scene at a girls’ basketball game. I saw an adult punch a wall, reacting to something that happened on a lacrosse field. More than one athletic director told me umpires and officials had to be escorted to their cars after games. There were numerous examples of security personnel threatening to eject people from various gyms and fields. And on the band played.

    We need to be better. And do better. School athletic departments need to invest more money in police officers and security personnel at games. They need to be visible and mindful of the term “zero tolerance.” They must make examples of offenders early and often. Because what we’re doing now isn’t working.

    At most schools, pregame public address announcements or posted spectator expectations are toothless. And useless. The only way people are going to learn to keep their mouths closed and to act with some decorum is by watching others escorted out. Remember this one and write it down: Your presence at an athletic event is a privilege, not a birthright.

    I pine for more adult responsibility around here because I just read a story about how other adults are abdicating theirs in another part of the state. The Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC), per a story at GametimeCT.com, will invoke a “No Names, No Numbers” policy for each student section this year, prohibiting the kids from chanting an opponent’s name or jersey number during competition.

    Noble, sure. But hardly scratches the problem where it most itches. Note to the FCIAC: It’s not the kids. It’s the adults. And when it’s the kids, it’s the responsibility of the adults to show them the proper boundaries.

    The idea the FCIAC has a students-only behavior policy implies that it’s the kids who create the most contention. Au contraire.

    “We are hoping that the adults will follow the leadership of the student fan groups,” FCIAC commissioner Dave Schulz told GametimeCT. “I know when I ran my parents’ meeting at Ludlowe (Schulz is the former AD there), we would mention that we didn’t want them to be abusive toward officials or single out players on our team. I think the ADs all do that now.”

    Ooooh. That’ll teach ’em. Maybe they’ll get sent to bed without dinner, too.

    I mean, stop. Just stop. Parents and other adults will continue to create chaotic environments until they are shown — not told — that such behavior won’t be tolerated.

    I know. I’m preparing to be disappointed. But — and there goes the hopeless idealism again — we begin anew this week. How about this: Go to the game, root for your kid and try not to be a nuisance.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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