Bad behavior or good sports?
Feb. 18, 2013
by Ivan Raconteur

The result of a high school hockey game doesn’t mean much to me, but the way we treat one other in civilized society does.

The story about the Farmington high school hockey player who deliberately scored against his own team, then made an obscene gesture toward his own bench before leaving the ice last week, raises some questions beyond hockey.

I’m not overly surprised by the spoiled punk who exhibited this offensive conduct. There have always been poor losers, and that probably isn’t going to change.

I won’t spend too much time speculating about why this player behaved the way he did. Maybe he was raised that way. Perhaps he has spent too much time watching bad behavior from some professional prima donna athletes.

Nonetheless, I suspect he will have a rude awakening in the future.

It has been reported that the incident was his response to the decisions of his coach.

Presumably, this kid will get a job someday. If he reacts in this manner every time he disagrees with the decisions of his employer, it is not likely to do much good for his career.

What about other relationships?

If some unfortunate young woman agrees to marry him, will he react this way every time he feels mistreated by his wife?

There comes a time when we all must face the fact that things aren’t always going to go our way, and we better learn to deal with it. Most of us learn that lesson long before we are seniors in high school (the hockey player in the story is a senior).

However, there is a bigger issue here.

What is most disturbing about the hockey story is that incidents like this receive so much popular attention.

The video of the incident went viral on the Internet, gaining international attention overnight, and was plastered on television newscasts. It was also the fodder for radio sports programs.

What is the fascination with this kind of behavior?

I read some comments on social media from people who thought it was funny.

What it really is, is sad.

I am not much of an athlete, but I believe sports can be an excellent way for young people to learn responsibility and teamwork. Sports, at their best, can teach that lofty concept of sportsmanship.

Why then, do we give so much attention to those who defy these principles?

The offensive young hockey player became a five-minute wonder – a sort of instant mini celebrity – and got a lot of attention for his obnoxious behavior.

What message does this send?

Instead of giving so much attention to those who behave badly, who have no respect for others, and who wouldn’t know teamwork if they stumbled over it – instead of giving our attention to these losers, how about giving the spotlight to the good guys?

I am referring to the players who demonstrate hard work and dedication every day. The guys who are always on time for practice, and do whatever is asked of them.

Why don’t we celebrate the girls who show respect for their teammates, and who really illustrate what it means to be a team player?

What would be wrong with shining a light on the students who exhibit sportsmanship on the court or field, and in other areas of their lives, as well?

Of course, there are people and organizations who do recognize these good students and good people. Many of their stories have appeared on the pages of this newspaper.

As a society, we need to decide if we are going to celebrate bad behavior or good sports.

The good sports to which I refer may not be the star players, but they are the kind of people I want on my team, whether it is a sports team, a work team, or a committee charged with solving a difficult problem.

Instead of giving the big stage to the bullies and the brats, maybe we should think about focusing more on the people who serve as the kind of role models we want children to follow.

It seems like a simple thing, but instead of being centered only on how to make things better for themselves, these people try to make things better for everyone around them – on their team, in their company, or in their community. Most of the time, they succeed.

These good sports are the people I would like to see in the spotlight.

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