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Sportsmanship for Field, Not Bleachers

Patrick Lawlor, Editor in Chief




Patrick Lawlor ’13 Editor in Chief On a recent walk by the Martone-Mejail turf field, I noticed some signs that list rules for those attending athletic events at Merrimack. They seemed pretty standard — no alcohol or tobacco at games was one of the rules — but one that stuck out, to me, was the prohibition of personal remarks to athletes or coaches on either team.

I know there has been a history in sports competitions of harassment or excessive swearing or yelling that have caused some problems. But really, no personal remarks of any kind? So if I am at a game cheering on one of the many Warrior sports teams, I am prohibited from yelling “nice catch, Jake” or “great save, Mary”? I highly doubt that was the intention of the Athletic Department, but it nonetheless provides confusing signage all around the athletic facilities.

The extension of sportsmanship expectations to the crowd or audience of spectators is a bit appalling to me. The worry should be the sportsmanship on the field, court or ice, not in the bleachers — that’s why fans are in the bleachers and not in the competition. But honestly, we all know these sportsmanship signs are a farce, an empty gesture. How many students get kicked out for drinking or being drunk at a game? How many students get kicked out because they are packing a lip full of tobacco?

Perhaps ejection is not a consequence on infringement of these rules … but then what are the consequences? The ban on personal remarks is silly and vague. I understand a level of civility and decorum needs to be present on a college campus, but sporting events are a place for passionate fans to express excitement, anger or any other emotions towards either team.

Whether these rules are codified by the college, Northeast-10, Hockey East or even the NCAA, I think we can all agree that at this level of competition, sportsmanship should start on the field, and civility in the bleachers, while a great idea, can’t be created by signs

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