As I travel the area covering local sports, I have often found myself wondering about the term “good sportsmanship.”
I saw this article online where the Little League teams in a city in Ohio had voted to ban chatter during games.
I remember chatter quite well.
I was an average pitcher at best, but every time I reared back to throw, I could hear my teammates around the infield chanting, “Hey batta….hey batta….hey batta….SWING batta!”
I don’t know that it ever had an impact on an at-bat, but we did it every pitch.
Now some leagues around the country are banning the practice because it is considered taunting the batter.
That sounds awfully overprotective, but I suppose it is setting a good example.
What exactly is good sportsmanship?
It is when teammates, opponents, coaches and officials treat each other with respect. Kids learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives, especially their parents and coaches.
What I find interesting in covering high school sports is that baseball teams already don’t use chatter, and the softball teams are the opposite.
Rather than the infield making a racket to try to rattle the batter, the hitter’s own teammates are creating a ruckus in the dugout. Sounds counterintuitive, like yelling at your teammate just as he’s about to shoot two free throws to win the game.
Of course, overall the high school girls are much more boisterous than the boys in most sports.
But does this celebrating step over the line of good sportsmanship?
When a softball pitcher strikes out an opponent, her teammates will run over to the pitching circle for a quick celebration.
In a volleyball match, teams will often have a group cheer or other action for an ace, kill or stuff block.
At one high school I was chatting with an assistant football coach while taking volleyball pictures.
The six girls gathered together to celebrate a spike. The coach noted, “If my boys did that, it would be a 15-yard penalty.”
It’s true. Group celebrations in football are whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct.
In the NFL a few years ago, players making a big defensive play would make a throat-slashing move with their hand. The NFL found this so offensive that regular fines were handed out until the fad maneuver died off.
If chatter and throat slashing are not okay, then why are group celebrations okay in other sports? Is it because these are sports played by girls? Should there be different standards for boys and girls in regards to sportsmanship?
True, what happens in a volleyball game is nothing along the lines of the Cobra Kai in “The Karate Kid” saying, “Get him a body bag!” But are these actions necessary?
Many of the same girls who play volleyball and softball also play basketball in the winter. They don’t hold a group cheer for every shot made, so obviously they can play without the extracurricular activities.
Perhaps it’s time to put these in-game celebrations to rest.
Reach Jeff Linville at 719-1920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.