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Sportsmanship in The Throes of March Madness

This was a very unusual year for basketball brackets for March Madness. As we go into the Final Four, there are no “verifiable perfect NCAA brackets” according to the NCCA’s website; this was busted on the 25th game. At my house, this gets extremely competitive for some and not so serious for others. Basketball games are always on in the background, and we enjoy watching some as a family. In full disclosure, basketball is at the bottom of my sports list, so it’s not often that my emotions override my perception of player performance and referee’s calls.

But my kiddos start baseball and track this week; this mama bear is fully aware that my perception can be skewed to favor my darlings. I try not to be biased towards my own kids, but I’m a rule follower and realist, so I want things to be fair. Umpires and referees are human, and to err is human and I know that anyone who is working these events is doing so for the enjoyment of the sport.

Bad, missed, and inconsistent calls from officials can be infuriating. My mind can understand how this happens, but my emotions, well, I have to temper them. So, before the seasons start, I am coming up with a plan on how to not be “THAT Fan”:

  • Be the adult. Practicing self-control by not shouting every thought is necessary. If a call is terrible, the coach is the one who should bring up the concern.  I am not living vicariously through my child. I need to act in a way that will make my family and team proud.
  • Remember that players are kids. From little league to college, their brains are still developing. Kids play sports because they enjoy the competition and have a desire to improve. Athletes (and officials) don’t deserve to be heckled.
  • Be a fan. Don’t coach or officiate from the sidelines; the main role is to be a responsible, supportive, enthusiastic fan.
  • Know that it’s not about the scholarship. According to the NCAA, only 2% of all high school athletes will be awarded a sports scholarship. It’s for the love of the game, yours and theirs.
  • Above all, enjoy your kids. Sports are about character development, mental toughness, physical activity, competition, teamwork, and fun. Avoid critiques, rude or disrespectful comments, and arguing.

If you’re finishing up a season or just going into spring sports, enjoy the game, they are meant to be fun.

Colleen Eusterwiemann, Suicide Pre & Postvention Coordinator for
The Kim Foundation

Colleen earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Sociology from Northwest Missouri State University and her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Colleen has previous experience working for local non-profits focusing on consulting, coordinating, planning, and providing direct care. Colleen joined The Kim Foundation in January of 2022.