I attend a lot of high school sports. Being increasingly a Grumpy Old Man–reputedly on the Nobel Prize short list for that award, a few years ago, but nothing came of it–here I will list a few of the things that annoy me as I watch high school sports. The first two are very petty, admittedly. The second two have to do with how teams get less out of their performers than they otherwise could. The final two move into the area of behavior and ideas.
1/Frequently the scorekeeper adds an additional three minutes to the clock, either before the game starts, or during halftime. Stop doing it. Some of us have “miles to go before we sleep” (Robert Frost, paraphrased). Somebody may need to get to their second shift at work. Others of us are old and need to get to bed at a reasonable hour. And so on. The games are long enough. Stop adding extra minutes.
2/At some sports events with a clock, the scorekeeper puts 00 on one side of the scoreboard, 00 on the other side. It looks bad and is slightly confusing. There are two reasonable options: leave the score blank on both sides, or put 0 on one side, 0 on the other side.
3/In basketball, even good teams permit their players to make one-handed passes, when two hands are available. It is much harder to control a one-handed pass, and leads to turnovers. The ball is precious. One possession can make a difference in a close game. Watch a season full of basketball, and you will see teams turn over the ball more than they need to do so, because they refuse to hold their players to a reasonable standard on this topic. Granted, there are times when a one-handed pass may be the only one available, but they are relatively few. My guess is that players think a one-handed pass looks better than a two-handed pass. When the ball sails out of bounds or into the hands of the opponent, it looks the reverse of good.
4/In track and cross country, one constantly hears coaches encourage runners to “get out fast.” However, we can’t run faster than we can run. Going out too fast puts the runner in oxygen debt, and causes him to run slower than he otherwise would, if he went out with an even expenditure of energy. It takes some learning to figure out how to run on the ragged edge, but it can be learned. Many or even most runners have a natural competitiveness. They should be encouraged to run a little bit carefully early. They will make up the ground, finish better than they did when going out fast, and feel better doing it than when they went out fast.
5/Prior to the national anthem being played, many announcers say something like, “Please rise for the playing of the national anthem of this great nation, and remember the troops serving overseas so that we can meet here in freedom.” This is ridiculous. Our troops overseas are making us less safe than we otherwise would be, and are getting killed and crippled unnecessarily, while often doing much harm to foreigners for no good reason at all. Is this a “great nation”? Then why have we, as a nation, killed 57,000,000 unborn children? We need to drop our pathetic civil religion, and to behave in a manner pleasing to God. Kill the mindless rhetoric, not babies and foreigners and our own troops.
6/The behavior of some Christians at sporting events is often disgraceful. Officiating a high school football or basketball game is a very difficult job. It is clear than most officials are doing the best they can. They miss calls, but how could they not when so many calls need to be made? A team losing a game because of poor officiating is very rare. We need to treat these people with courtesy and respect. How can we claim the name of Christ if we are verbally abusing officials? This is not rocket science. Christians need to exhibit behavior that reflects the character of their God.
There you have it: six complaints by a Grumpy Old Man in regard to sports. I feel better getting them off my chest.