As I’ve discussed multiple times, I spend a good chunk of my life in basketball gymnasiums watching or coaching my kids. In addition to that, I also help organize and run a basketball tournament each year in Gretna. During all that time, I’ve seen some shocking things when it comes to behavior from players, fans, coaches, and even referees. At our tournament two weekends ago, it was no different, but I witnessed the most shocking moment I’ve seen to do date and felt compelled to tell you all about it.
While coaching my daughter’s sixth grade team, we were in a battle of a game, lead changes back and forth, a very fun and competitive contest from the tip. In the end, we scored a late basket and played good enough defense on their last attempt to seal a two-point win. Now, if you’ve seen my team play, that may seem like the shocking part of this story, but it was the postgame actions of our opponents that left me speechless.
After going through the handshake line, my girls gathered up their belongings and headed out to the hallway for our customary postgame discussion. As we were walking down the hall, I noticed most of the girls had a little card in their hand. I knew it was one of our players’ birthdays, so thought maybe they had organized something for her? Upon finishing our team huddle, I asked the girls, “Hey, what are those little cards?” This is when we get to the shocking part.
Our opponents hand wrote thank you cards to give to our girls after the game, thanking us for the competition and for having them as guests at our tournament.
Nebraska Supreme out of Lincoln, coached by Pete Ferguson, was the team that did this, and it really got me thinking about just how sad this action was to me.
It was sad because I’ve never seen that. It was sad because something like that shouldn’t be so shocking to us. But in youth athletics today, competing hard, playing fair, and then respectfully thanking and appreciating your opponent after the competition is often something of which we see less and less.
The sad state of affairs today is that during our tournament I saw: Grown men and women get escorted out of gyms for screaming at officials, officials verbally threatening players and parents, a sixth grade boy getting called for a foul and yelling directly to the referee “That’s f-ing BS!” and more.
Are we really at the point where those instances I just mentioned aren’t even shocking any more? That getting thank you cards from our opponents is what leaves us speechless. Let that sink in because it’s absolutely ridiculous. Kudos to coach Ferguson and his players for bucking the trend of insanity. Regardless of whether or not any of those girls grow up to be basketball players, they should feel very lucky to be learning bigger life lessons from a great coach.
Chris Rhoades is associate publisher for Enterprise Media Group.