Column: Let's not lose our dignity this fall
by Will Heath
Nov 08, 2012 | 3349 views |  0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Excuse me, Miss? Yes, the lady who’s screaming at the top of her lungs at our alma mater’s high school game tonight. May I have a word?
 
No, we don’t need to go in private. We can all have this discussion together. It’s really important everybody hears it, anyway, what with the playoffs starting this week.
 
It’s not so much your passion that bothers me, you see. Really, everybody should come to a high school football game ready to scream and yell and show their support for the boys like this.
 
What bothers me is your negativity, you see. We’ve been here two hours, and you’ve said nothing but really terrible things, to the referees, to the coaches and to the players.
 
Look, I realize from whence this attitude comes. It’s an outgrowth of our fandom we inherited as fans of college football, and pro football, to some extent.
 
You realize this is high school though, don’t you? The kids you are berating for being weak and stupid are 16 and 17 years old. 
 
I’m curious — what sort of person were you at age 16? Did adults you’d barely met shout mean things at you from a distance? With your parents sitting two rows behind them?
 
Wait … they did? Well, let us move on, then.
 
I noticed you’re also not a huge fan of the coach; specifically, you keep shouting that the plays he calls “ain’t workin’.” A fair point, I suppose — the team hasn’t scored a touchdown every time it has snapped the ball.
 
What’s your definition of “workin’,” if you don’t mind my asking? Is five yards enough for you? Ten yards? 15?
 
Since we mentioned the kids’ parents sitting close by, now might also be a good time to mention that group of ladies sitting one section over, all nervously trying to tune you out. Those are the coaches’ wives. Friday nights are not fun for them.
 
What about the referees, you ask? Aren’t they fair game? Well, I suppose — the guys in stripes are easy targets, what with the penalties they seem to only be calling on us and, more egregiously, the ones they’re NOT calling on the other guys. Can’t we at least pile on them?
 
Well, it’s not as though they’re not used to it. To be frank, I don’t know why anybody signs up to be an official — it’s not like anybody congratulates you for the great job you’re doing. It’s sort of like being a waiter: if you do your job correctly, nobody even remembers you.
 
This leads me to the larger point, however. Have you noticed the little kids sitting in front of you, mimicking everything you say? Don’t you find that the least bit embarrassing, if only for a minute? 
 
You may not believe this, but many people’s only impression of a place comes through a sporting event. They’ll travel to a town for a football or basketball game, and for the rest of their lives the only memory they will have of that place is the treatment they received while they were there. 
 
Isn’t it somewhat of an imperative, then, that we at least attempt to conduct ourselves with decorum? … What does that mean?
 
Eh … never mind, I guess. Have a nice night. 

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