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What is it about sports that drives some people to act so … unsportsmanlike?

Some Days the Bear ...I understand about competition, putting everything you have into the pursuit of something with no guarantee of a positive outcome.

I also understand how it feels when it doesn’t go the way you thought it would — especially if you feel you were somehow “cheated” out of your glorious moment.

But I’ll never understand what drives people — adults who should know better — to act like spoiled children when they don’t get their way.

The scene I witnessed at the Posse Grounds Park softball fields last week still has me shaking my head in disbelief.

Players from Roster Check JMC thought it so unfair that one of their teammates was called out for stepping out of the batter’s box that they walked off the field in protest.

To make matters worse, some of the players hurled threats at umpire Don McCombs, who felt so intimidated he called the local police to escort him out.

McCombs told me that part of his anxiety was due to having been in a similar situation at a game in California and getting his jaw broken by one of the players.


I’m not going to get into a discussion of whether McCombs made the right call or the wrong call on the play in question, because as far as I’m concerned it’s a moot point considering everything that happened afterward.

I think what is needed is for those involved to take a step back and get a little perspective.

Getting angry and shouting because your family, your country or your way of life is being threatened may be justified; but getting angry and shouting threats at an official, and ruining everyone’s night, just because your recreational league team was assessed one out in the first inning? Not so much.

If anyone had a reason to be angry that night it was McCombs.

I don’t know what the city pays the referees of its recreational league games, but I guarantee you it’s not enough to put up with players shouting threats at you.

What troubles me more, though, is that there were children present at the game who witnessed the entire scene, and kids are great imitators.

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I ever got was to not worry about whether my kids were listening to me; worry about the fact that they were always watching me.

Kids see everything, and they imitate what they see.

When adults behave badly, kids see that and assume that it must be OK to behave that way, and there’s a good chance they will imitate that behavior at some point in the future.

As adults, we need to make certain we are setting good examples for our youth.

Playing a game should be seen as something fun, something that promotes camaraderie between people — even if those people are on the opposing team, or officiating the game.

We’ve created a cycle of unsportsmanlike behavior in our society, and it needs to stop.

We need to cut out the nonsense.

And get some perspective.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Sept. 4, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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