The high school sports calendar just began, and already we have a horror story: In Texas, two defensive backs attacked a football referee during a game. As a play unfolded, one rammed the official from behind and the other speared him while he was lying on the ground.
An assistant coach has been placed on leave after allegations that he ordered the attack as payback for missed calls.
This seems like a good time to remind everyone about the most important, and often forgotten, aspect of prep athletics.
I could fill this column with examples of lost perspective and uncivil behavior spawned by teenagers’ games. Instead, let’s be proactive.
If you are a parent, athlete or coach, please take this pledge to behave appropriately in 2015-16. Remember: playing fields are not battlefields.
I will support my child in a positive fashion, encouraging them rather than pressuring them to the point where sports becomes a chore.
I will not heckle high school athletes.
I will not punch, kick, bite or curse another parent.
I will not coach from the stands.
I will not try to get a coach fired over playing time.
I realize transferring multiple times may stunt my child’s educational and social development.
I recognize that most coaches have young peoples’ best interests at heart, and their stipends add up to about $1 per hour.
I recognize that 1 percent of high school athletes earn college scholarships for sports, and that someone is more likely to get hit by lightning or win the lottery than become a professional athlete.
I will respect opponents, both in cyberspace and in person.
I will let my coach deal with the officials.
I will not haze my teammates. I recognize the difference between good-natured duespaying, like having newcomers carry the Gatorade jug, and hurting people.
I recognize that winning and losing graciously are just as important as the result. One can have a burning desire to win and still be classy.
I embrace challenges and will not transfer at the first sign of adversity. I realize schools should not be changed like socks.
I will do everything in my power to avoid running up an embarrassing score on an overmatched foe.
I will treat athletes’ injuries, especially concussions, with the utmost care and precaution.
I will play by the rules, both on and off the court. I agree that a level playing field is paramount and cheating or exploiting loopholes are terrible lessons to teach young people.
I will respect multi-sport athletes’ other commitments and not force someone to specialize in one sport year-round.
I will monitor the locker room and not blindly trust teenagers to police themselves.
I am mindful of a coach’s tremendous potential to influence young lives, and that success in high school sports is not measured solely by wins and losses, but also by the lessons learned along the journey.
Staff writer Jerry Carino: email@example.com.