Sports fans should respect teams after loss

Mike Ezekiel

Sports are not life and death.

Yes, this statement is coming from your resident sports editor on campus.

As passionate as I am about sports, I consider it a getaway from life. When I am burdened with college work, numerous projects and life struggles, I spend some time with sports to ease my mind.

With that said, it bothers me when people ruin that getaway.

Oct. 17 was a typical day of college football: fun, exciting and full of great games. Of course, UNA pulled out a 62-28 win over North-Carolina Pembroke in this area, but another game of interest happened in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

University of Michigan punter Blake O’Neill fumbled a snap on the last play of the game, as Michigan State University gained possession and scored for the win.

The loss devastated Wolverine faithfuls, including fans, coaches, players and especially the punter. The fans made O’Neill the scapegoat of the loss, going as far as threatening his life.

As a sports fan, I was angry. I was not frustrated with the punter, but with society.

ESPN broadcaster Joe Tessitore immediately took the issue to television and said one of the most powerful statements I have ever heard.

“If (losing) is grounds for social media death threats and suicide suggestions, then I fear we may be close to teetering on total civility failure,” he said.

Unfortunately, it can make or break someone’s day, week or even his or her year until they play that team again.

This is unhealthy.

In like manner, when a coach does not perform to expectations, fans become disgruntled and want that coach fired, in most cases. In our society, most of the expectations are based solely on winning games, not molding young men and women to be productive in society.

My eyes were not opened to this until my senior year of high school, when UNA offensive coordinator, and my former high school coach, Cody Gross gave me some words of wisdom.

“Coaches are constantly criticized,” Gross said. “The coach invests (his or her) life into the program, but when things go bad, we understand it’s part of the business. But when people take joy in a coach being fired, that’s got to be a sad existence.”

When a coach’s son or daughter comes home from school asking if their parent is going to lose the job, it is a sad situation.

Why encourage this? Why take joy in someone else’s mishaps?

Furthermore, why threaten someone’s life because they made a mistake, especially someone who had the talent to be in that position?

The solution is easy, friends. Do not let your life hinge on whether your team wins or loses.

In life, we have our own wins and losses to take care of. Why don’t we encourage not only our team, but also our fellow man to do better, rather than discourage?

As legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”