Monday, October 25, 2010

A Sports Thought

Well, I was going to write about another topic altogether, but I have no clue what it was. Something about running out in the unbelievably cold rain and having a number of those near-ice drops find their way down the small gap between the back of my jacket collar and my neck, combined with a discussion on the radio, drove all previous thoughts out of my mind. Oh, and also thinking about the comment on yesterday's article.

Yeah, all that combined to get another thought percolating through my brain.

You see, the discussion on the radio was about sports, not a topic I generally pay much attention to. In fact, I pay about as much attention to the goings-on in the sports world as I do about who got voted off what island / panel / group in some lame attempt at finding reality / the-world's-best-fill-in-the-blank / idol-contender.

But this discussion caught my ear. You see, there was some hockey game in which a few of the spectators heckled one of the players. Ok. Perhaps heckle is a bit too soft of a word. They were overly rude, beyond belief, shouting racial epthets at him, and possibly (although that may have been a reference to another game) throwing objects at him. Anyways, whatever they were doing, it wasn't that nice, and this player got fed up. From what I understand he jumped into the audience and attacked them. And wasn't too gentle about it

We've all heard about the need for self-control at these sports games, and how the players need to learn to play without fighting. And this is certainly not the first time that a player has attacked a spectator. But in this case, the player got a 6 game suspension, which is the same punishment that another player recently got for swearing. There seems to be a bit of an issue about consistency here. And they are now talking about the "need" for a plexiglass barrier between the players and the audience, so that this type of thing doesn't happen again.

All right. So far nothing that would have really caught my attention, except insofar as to make me just shake my head and be grateful that Shoghi doesn't express any interest in going to any of these games.

But then one of the people on the air said something that just made me stop and say, "No, no, no." He said that the fans (although I would be hesitant in using that term, except for the fact that it is derived from the word "fanatical", so maybe it is the correct term here) pay their money and can do what they want, as long as it is within the bounds of the law.

Say what?

Paying a few dollars gives you the right to attack the players?

If you went to the theatre and started shouting racial slurs at the actors, I can't imagine them allowing you to stay in the theatre. And nobody would give it a second thought if you were kicked out. They would actually be grateful.

If you went to the movies and started shouting at the film, you would probably be given a nice escort to the door (unless it was Rocky Horror, then everyone else would be shouting, too). Ballet? You'd be given the boot (pointy-toed, I might add).

If you stood on the street in most any major city and began hurling racial slurs in a loud voice, you'd probably be arrested on some racism chrage or another, and people would be cheering the police.

But here, in a sports arena, not only is it condoned, but defended. "The stadium should put up a barrier to protect the spectators."

It may just be me, but I think there needs to be a bit more done here. And not in the way of making it more difficult for the players to defend themselves (for I do believe that they were under attack). Oh, but don't get me wrong. The players need to learn a bit more self-control, for sure, but still, they should not be attacked by the audience in the first place.

No, I think the issue here is courtesy. And respect. I'm sure I could name a few other virtues, but I think those two suffice. In fact, I still go with courtesy, for Baha'u'llah admonishes us "to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues".

But also, I think it is to place responsibility where it belongs.

I will not say that the players were right in attacking anyone. No, I don't think that's the case. But they are not solely to blame. And to act as if they are is just plain wrong, as far as I'm concerned. Yelling at, taunting and throwing things at someone while they are working (and even when they are not) is just plain wrong. Yes, the players deserve to be punished, but so do the people who started it in the first place. I would like to read or hear about the punishment that was meted out to the spectators.

All of this really drives home the need to teach our children better manners. It is so important that we really take the time to help them learn to be courteous and loving. Sure, you can go to a sports game and cheer on your team. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, that can easily be seen as a form of encouragement.

But not at the expense of the other players.

They are human, too, and are worthy of respect and, of course, courtesy.

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