Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sport Should Be About More Than Scoring Points

It’s always disappointing when we see kids’ sporting activities ruined by aggressive parents behaving belligerently. It’s even worse when one of those parents is actually a team official acting as a linesman. The case of Peter Quigley, who has been suspended for six weeks, shows just how extreme some parents can become.

Acting as a linesman at a match in September last year, Mr. Quigley complained to the referee on several occasions in the first half. His complaints were loud and forceful to the point where he was told he was ruining the game, but still he continued until the referee called off the game altogether. The argument then spilled over among the parents of the opposing team who were angry that Mr. Quigley had caused the match to be abandoned. Mr. Quigley alleges that somebody made physical contact with his son, at which he responded by saying, “ All you people are the lowest form of life. You should all have been wiped out during the war.”

Did I mention that the other team was the Maccabi club, a Jewish team?

If indeed somebody became physical with Mr. Quigley’s son, that is also out of bounds. But it’s certainly not justification for such an outrageous racist outburst. In fact, things should never have been allowed to reach that stage in the first place. One of the things that we are trying to teach kids in sport is to respect the referee. Apparently Mr. Quigley fails to understand this.

What worries me is that there are other Mr. Quigleys out there in the community. People who feel that it’s not how you play the game, but whether you win or lose that matters most. People who feel that someone else’s mistake is justification for a tirade of abuse. People who act as if the best way to resolve a dispute is to become aggressive and offensive. People who have no concern for the good of the game or the wellbeing of others.

What’s really sad is that some of those people are playing sport professionally and are making headlines for abusing each other rather than playing the game. With that sort of example to follow, parents must work all the harder to show their kids the true spirit of sport, which is to respect the game, the referee, and the opponent. It’s the only code to follow if you want to receive respect in return.

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