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|Is sportsmanship becoming a dying art in HS football?|
OK, I have very mixed emotions about this one. But when it was brought up it did give me something to consider.
I talked to a high school coach not from this area earlier this year. We were talking about some of the incidents that made news this year.
We talked about the Vidalia-Jena game which become heated at the end and the Grant-Bolton game which had a post-game fight.
There have been a few other incidents and close calls. Mississippi has had two games interrupted by fights, the most recent on Oct. 26 between Salem and Mount Olive.
Friday night, Live Oak coach Tut Musemeche was handcuffed before his playoff game against Bossier City's Parkway after refusing to yield the field for pre-game activities. A disagreement over warm-up time vs. a pre-game Parkway band performance led to Musmeche being handcuffed after Parkway Principal Nichole Bourgeois asked police to intervene.
Nothing like a little overreaction from both sides to get your players' blood flowing.
Whatever happened to the simple pre-game speech to get your team fired up?
I've heard of a few other issues, but I can attest to the fact that the Vidalia-Jena game got out of hand because the officials let it do so.
It was obvious from the outset that there was too much extracurricular stuff going on and instead of nipping that in the bud, the officials were more concerned about the coaches crossing that magical white line on the sideline (we need to use those for the next war).
Getting back to my discussion with this coach for earlier this year. He told me that the most overrated part of football is the post-game handshake.
"We're telling our guys to bust the chops of the guy across from them for about two hours and then they have to turn that off and shake hands," he said. "I have had games where I told the kids to go to the dressing room and the coaches just shook hands."
It sounds unsportsmanlike and I do understand people who would be against taking that away, but unfortunately it is making more and more sense with the talking and cheap shots that go on during a high school football game.
I would love to see high school players gather around like college and NFL players and form a circle for prayer at the end of a game.
But even the NFL players don't spend a lot of time shaking hands. You usually see the opposing quarterbacks who have not been hitting on each other the entire game exchange pleasantries.
At the end of the Grant-Bolton game, there was a messy fight.
Chad Harkins, who coached at Huntington and Ferriday, is now head coach at Grant. And, no, he is not the coach mentioned earlier.
Chad told me one of Bolton's players shoved one of his players during the postage handshake and it went downhill from there. Chad even said he had a fingernail torn off during the scuffle.
What scares me even more now is that I see cheerleaders getting in line to shake the hands of the opposing team. I don't know that I would want a cheerleader in the middle of a brawl.
I like the handshake at the end of ballgames. I admired Delhi Charter quarterback Will Zeigler leading his team across the field to shake hands with Block players after their loss to the Bears Friday and even giving a quick hug to a couple of Bear players.
And I realize the post-game activities that do make news are far out-numbered by the ones that don't.
Overrated? Maybe. But a handshake is still nice to see at the end of 48 minutes of tough competition. It's called sportsmanship. Hopefully it doesn't become a dying art.
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