January 21, 2020

Championship celebrations spoiling sports

In yet another attempt by certain psychologists and other educated alibi-offerers who blame society for all our ills, the recent mob violence and vandalism in Los Angeles following the Lakers’ deciding victory over Indiana in the NBA finals was shrugged off as a predictable reaction by “overidentified fans.” Huh?

According to fan analysts (evidently, this is a real job) and sports psychologists interviewed for an Associated Press story, overidentified fans are people who feel so strongly about their teams, they consider themselves part of the team.

Well maybe we missed it, but I don’t recall any Lakers players burning and trashing police cars and news vans, vandalizing property or looting stores. So why did these overidentified fans?

It’s a good bet many of them weren’t even basketball fans. They were just degenerates who used the Lakers’ win as an excuse to incite crowds to run wild. Once things got out of hand, they took advantage of the situation by destroying property and-or stealing merchandise.

Another underlying problem to this kind of behavior is personal responsibility.

It seems no one’s responsible for their own bad acts or behavior these days, especially in sports. They say it’s society’s fault for glorifying lowlifes like Dennis Rodman and Mike Tyson. And it’s not too hard to find other examples of this kind of thinking locally. Last weekend’s state championship baseball games offered the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of sportsmanship.

GOOD: The Stearns-Telstar Class C state baseball final was a close contest filled with great plays, clutch hits, and genuine respect for the opposing players and teams.

BAD: Deering High School players began heckling Bangor players from their dugout after Bangor began committing a series of uncharacteristic fielding errors. It continued for an inning or so before Deering’s head coach told them to stop.

UGLY: A couple of Deering players, who had already drawn attention at last summer’s state American Legion baseball tournament for arguing with umpires, defying tourney officials, and trash-talking with opponents, got in the faces of Bangor fielders – most notably the catcher – to shout insults and invectives after scoring a run or getting a hit.

One Deering player said it was simply a form of psychological warfare to get Bangor down further and “tighten the screws.”

One reporter tried to blame the classless behavior on examples learned from watching professional athletes. “What else do they see on TV?” he asked.

Well, for every Allen Iverson, Latrell Sprewell or Kobe Bryant, there are gentlemen like David Robinson, Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwan who don’t feel the need to act like punks on the court. Instead of idolizing Albert (Joey) Belle or Rickey Henderson, kids can turn to Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Pedro Martinez – men who remember their humble roots, appreciate their God-given talents, and treat fans and opponents with respect.

And if it was all due to poor pro athlete role models, every high schooler and college player around would be acting like gangster rappers at a keg party. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. Despicable behavior by athletes and fans is still relatively rare around here – at least for now.

However, unless more people – young and old – are taught personal responsibility and are held personally accountable for their actions, the West may not be the only coast to witness incidents like those in L.A.

Andrew Neff is a NEWS sportswriter.

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