Imagine watching a championship game, basketball, soccer, or other sport. And all of the sudden an official blows the whistle, indicating a foul on the favored team. This ends up allowing the opposing team to be one point ahead.
All of the sudden, it happens: a player gets irate with an official as they attempt to appeal their case with angry and heated words that ends up with the player taken out of the game.
A recent example involves Serena Williams in the finals match of the U. S. Open. According to The National a call made by the official cost Williams the win. Williams then proceeded to verbally attack the official for the call and was fined $2,000, $500 more than the minimum. Although Williams has been an icon of women’s tennis for years, her outbursts beg the question: where is the limit for athletes similar to Williams?
Passion is a key factor to play a sport. However, should the more boisterous athletes be given more freedom to express their sentiments during a game than they have now?
“My first reaction is to say no,” said Sports Information Director Dave Walters. “Because there is so much passion and intensity and so much at stake … it could disrupt the entire event and could be injurious to the opponent in some way.”
“It’s having mutual respect for the game and your opponent,” said sophomore tennis player Tyler Mercier. “He’s out there making the same mistakes you’re making so it depends on how you control yourself.”
Some sports can get more intense than others. Basketball for example can get very heated when each player is eager to get the ball into their hands in order to score a point. Cross country running can become somewhat a contact sport when other runners are elbowing each other at the starting line.
However, it should be assumed that all athletes should uphold a sense of what is appropriate and to respect the other team and the officials.
“I believe they also need to help maintain a fair atmosphere by enforcing those rules that manage behavior,” said Walters.
What should be taken into account is that all student athletes represent Guilford College. Whenever there is an away game or meet at another school, athletes are expected to uphold the fact they are representing their school.
“You don’t want to disgrace the school and give them a bad rep.” said Mercier.
Although it is difficult to be level-headed in a competition, that doesn’t seem like an excuse to go against the rules of good sportsmanship.
“Allowing more heat-of-the-moments to come into play, you’re opening yourself to the opportunity for more violent outbursts,” said Walters. “Which I don’t think anyone wants.”
Take into consideration the spectators who have come to watch the event and then have to see their player get into an argument that ends up with them being taken out of the game. Not only would it ruin the event but would also be a bad example for the young spectators who idolize the players.
“It doesn’t look that good when players are cursing and acting childish,” said Mercier. “The fans don’t want to see a player lash out because he made a mistake. It’s just how you control yourself and move on … that proves to me how good of a player you are.”
Another question that should be considered is how the coaches deal with these athletes who have trouble keeping their passion from overriding their level-headedness. In a way, an athlete is a product of the effort the coach has put forth into helping this athlete reach a new level.
“I think the coach has to know … how to best contain and excite and motivate so that his or her particular athlete is performing his or her best without disrupting or bringing penalties to the team.” said Walters.