Beyond The Score

Central Vermont Sports Blog

Harassment or Just Trash Talk?

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Fall sports are in high gear and local teams are very competitive. So are the fans. During the summer Montpelier School Board was presented a “new” Athletic Handbook which was aimed at improving communication and making expectations clear about behavior of fans and players during games. So what has changed? Parents, players and coaches now have a comprehensive document that outlines all aspects of sport at MHS. That’s about all that’s changed. What is needed now is for people with strong positive energy to put that document into action before it gathers dust on shelves around town.

The first major incident of the season occurred during a boys soccer game between Lyndon Institute and Montpelier. Players began trash talking during the contest and it escalated into a Montpelier player verbally attacking (racial/ethnic in nature) an Asian player from Lyndon. We’ll never know who said what or how the exchange escalated into harassment but it did and it’s absolutely wrong. The Montpelier District Handbook, the MHS Athletic Handbook and the Vermont Principals Association Guidelines all have addressed Hazing and Harassment. I’m sure Lyndon Institute does as well. Big deal! It’s great that we have all this stuff on paper but does that change the climate or improve fan and player behavior. Apparently not.

So, what are people doing about it? Coaches and Athletic Directors have talked with the teams and players. The MHS player was suspended for a couple of games. So maybe this little lesson will serve as an example of what you shouldn’t do but it’s all after the fact. MHS needs to start cleaning up it’s house because it’s getting messy. Even a game official commented that he doesn’t like Montpelier and it has to do with the fans and players behavior. It needs to be addressed. It needs to change.

What are the lessons being taught? I watch teams come onto the field and always notice the team with the most discipline. Do they look like a team? Do they act like a team? Usually they are the ones that perform the best and have the most fun. When they leave the field what does the bench area look like? How do they leave the bus after the trip? Is it a mess? What does the locker room look like after a game? All this stuff shows the amount of class a team has and you will see it in their performance.

Montpelier has a big job to do this year to improve fan and player behavior. It’s time to start paying more attention to the values and expectations outlined in the handbooks. Start with coaches meetings. Collect their ideas and put those ideas to work. Add some student rallies to develop school pride and maybe create enthusiasm through Booster Club activities.

Get creative! Get involved! Do something! These are our kids and I’m sure we’re not helping them by allowing bad behaviors.

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Written by Roger

September 28, 2010 at 12:32 PM

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