Editorial: Cheer on your team, but be a good sport about it

Tonight and tomorrow evening mark the opening of the high school regular football season around the state.

It is a time filled with excitement, adrenalin rushes, pomp, pageantry and hopefully good cheers.

In many ways, though, high school

athletics is not just ordinary extra-curricular event. It can and should

be an extension

of the classroom, a veritable working laboratory where lessons

such as the benefits of hard work and dedication, reaching

for a goal, teamwork, tenacity, focus, discipline, humility,

respect, ethics and proper conduct are emphasized and reinforced

not only for the players, but the cheerleaders, band members, pep

squad and student body.

For the players themselves, how to shuck a blocker or run a down-and-out route will likely not serve them once they graduate.

But those intangibles absorbed from athletics will likely buoy them for the rest of their lives.

Exemplary sportsmanship should be a

goal of everyone involved. It starts with members of the coaching staff

and the school’s

administration. They set the standard and have the power to reward

commendable behavior and punish unacceptable deportment.

Their examples filter down through the rest of the student body and set the tone for what happens in the stands.

Parents and adult fans also have a responsibility. They, too, can influence the atmosphere in a positive or negative way.

Those on the field, on the sidelines

and in the seats should remember that the officials in charge of

enforcing the rules

have studied them for years. They are trained to know the rules

pertaining to high school football and will not confuse them

as some of the stands may be wont to do with the subtle

differences that govern college and pro football.

Yes, those in the striped shirts are compensated, but often times not enough for the hours they put in to prepare to call

a game nor the undeserved abuse they take.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association defines sportsmanship as citizenship in action, an encompassing of all that

is good in human nature.

It is, according to the LHSAA, the

‘‘concrete measure of understanding and commitment to fair play, ethical

behavior and integrity.’’

By all means, cheer for your team, your school and the players and coaches.

But be a good sport about it. That means respecting the opponent.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.