The official fans’ guide to proper etiquette
Your humble narrator, readily available for parties, graduations, weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, strives to be a Columnist of the People. Give ’em what they want. Give ’em what they need.
And so today we take a swing at a public service announcement. The high school sports season is upon us, meaning that the bleachers will be full again soon. This is to make sure that while the bleachers are full again, they’re also not full of IT again, if you catch my drift. So here is the official Fans’ Guide To Proper Etiquette for the 2023-24 season:
• Be nice to the coach. No, really. I’ve yet to see one coach in more than 30 years try to lose the game. Or stick pins into a Voodoo doll resembling your child. The coach is earnest in the quest to play the kids that give the team the best chance to win. It’s not personal. And besides: Do you know who knows more about your kid’s team than the coach? Nobody. That’s who.
• Be nice to the officials. I seriously doubt that there’s somebody at your job screaming at you from afar, swearing at you, mocking you, threatening you and perhaps chasing you to your car after a long day’s work. So be as considerate. Officials are all regular working people just like you who are trying to make a difference in the games the kids play. There’s enough of a shortage as it is because people aren’t heeding this advice.
• If you see something, say something. As you know, our world is becoming more unglued by the day. If you see or hear something amiss, 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 and to help keep everyone safe.
• Try not to coach from the stands. No, really. There’s a good chance you know less than the coach does. Distracting your child does nothing but ruin his or her concentration. I’m going to petition all ECC schools that anyone seen coaching in the bleachers gets a 10-minute misconduct and must spend the next two games volunteering at the concession stand.
• Control yourself on the ride home. You may think it’s important to issue an immediate critique of your kid after the game. Remember: He or she is probably hot, hungry, tired, thirsty and emotionally drained. The last thing he or she needs is a state of the union. Maybe they didn’t ask for one in the first place. It won’t be absorbed very well because they’re hot, hungry, tired, thirsty and emotionally drained. Take them for ice cream. Maple walnut.
• Nobody cares about your kid’s playing time. Least of all the coach, whose more pressing matters are: Are we in the right offense? The right defense? How many timeouts do we have? Is the punt team ready? The point is to win the game, not showcase your kid’s skills. Teach them how to be a good teammate instead.
• Understand the concepts of “birthright vs. privilege.” It is a privilege to attend the game. Not a birthright. School officials and law enforcement have every right to ban you from the facilities. A quote from a basketball coach in Pennsylvania: “At the end of the day, we are talking about a two-hour period in a life with an expectancy over 80 years. The only way the kids will remember that game down the road is if something exceptional happens. And a parent acting like a buffoon counts as that."
• Karma is real. Yell at a kid from the stands and remember the words of the immortal Maude Findlay: “God’ll getcha for that, Walter.”
I hope this helps. Oh, the things I’ve seen and heard over the years from otherwise well meaning people. Watching your kid play should be joyous. It should be the best part of the day, aside from that first sip of coffee. Remember: Not everyone is good enough to make the team. Be grateful for the opportunity. And don’t be a nuisance.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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