January 28, 2013

BLOG: Disrespectful fans ruin game experience for everyone

The Express-Star

— I spent a lot of time in Minco last week for the 95th annual Grady County Basketball Tournament, and it was a very enjoyable experience.

The venue was nice, and there were plenty of hard-working people making sure everything ran smoothly each day.

The only negative I can think of is something that isn't specific to the Grady County Tournament: Fans verbally abusing referees. That happens everywhere.

Common as it might be, it never ceases to annoy me. Especially at high school games. Despite requests over the PA system and signs in many high school gyms to be respectful, there are always fans who come to the arena and spend much of the time insulting the officials.

On some level, I get it. There isn't a sports fan alive who hasn't been frustrated with a bad call in a game. But to come to a kids' sporting event, as an adult, and yell disrespectfully at a person who is just trying to do his or her job strikes me as embarrassing.

Kids get technical fouls for talking back to the referees. I only wish there was an immediate penalty for any fan, parent or student who can't be mature enough to be respectful at a game.

Sure, they're paying customers, they can say what they want, free speech…I understand. But the only unfortunate thing about freedom of speech in this context is that there are so many people who don't know when to not exercise it, and just enjoy the game.