When I watch our high school football games (New Canaan, CT) I mostly stand off by myself. I don’t do this because I am not sociable; I don’t do it because I don’t like being a part of the crowd or because I dislike people; I do it because I can’t stand, and am afraid I might react, to stupid comments from people who are supposedly supporting the team. I am not talking about ignorant comments about the sport…that is almost understandable. I am talking about direct insults about the way individuals are performing.
These are not the parents, these are the so called “fans” who think these kids, high school kids, 15-18 years old, should play like professionals every down. These are most likely the wannabe, frustrated, non-athletes who have never had an athletic achievement in their life, but because they watch 10 hours of NFL football on Sunday and call into the sports radio talk shows that they are somehow an expert. (And this is with a tremendously successful program and team in NC).
First of all, their expertise is lacking and the fact of the matter is this; these kids (not just in my town) work hard. They play hard, they practice almost daily, they play through injuries and they care. Do they play perfect football? Of course not, but a lot of that happens at the college and pro levels as well….if you want to go yell things at a professional football player…fine, that is your right as someone who has paid a lot of money for a ticket and they expect it…they could care less about what you say, regardless–win, lose or draw and no matter what you think or how they play–they will cash their game check. My dad said to me years ago when I was upset with the way the Jets were playing and I was yelling at the TV, “Dave, you care more than the players do!” That struck a chord and has always stuck with me.
But the fact is that these kids do care…they play to win and when they lose they take it hard. In some cases too hard, but again they are kids. And even if your comment may never reach their ears on the field other people, including their parents and others who know what kind of kids they are, hear it and it is upsetting. So, just because you paid $5 for a ticket and wear an asinine (I prefer ass) hat to the game gives you no right to demand that the players play better or make comments about the mistakes they may make, especially in a small town when you might be standing adjacent to that kids parents.
Of course, I cannot hear the stupid comments where I am, so if you are wondering how I know this and am offended, my lovely wife tends to fill me in (unsolicited) as she sits with the parents.
Off I go, to watch in the end zone, and the guilty parties should be glad that I do!