“For when the One Great Scorer comes,
To mark against your name,
He writes — not that you won or lost —
But how you played the Game.”
— Grantland Rice, “Alumnus Football”
That noble sentiment is sadly lacking in many sports venues these days.
For instance, many crowing Gamecock and despairing Tiger fans, still mindful of last month’s football outcome, would strongly dispute Mr. Rice’s notion that whether “you won or lost” is relatively insignificant.
But there should be some reasonable limit to the passions stirred by sports.
And when police in riot gear must be summoned to break up a rumble between large groups of spectators at a football game, perspective has clearly been fumbled.
That’s especially true when it’s a youth football game — and most of the instigators in the brawling crowd are the players’ parents.
And that’s exactly what happened recently in Chino, Calif.
You expect to see 12- to 14-year-old football players teams wearing headgear.
You don’t expect to see police wearing headgear summoned to stop near-riot violence between those kids’ dads — and moms.
Yet as Police Sgt. Frank Mena told the San Bernardino Sun:
“We only had our helmets on for our protection because when you get a call of a fight between two and three hundred people, you want to be protected.”
Fortunately, thanks to the timely arrival of the police, no serious injuries were reported. And because most of the parents fled when they saw law enforcement officers taking the field, no arrests were made.
However, there was damage done.
After all, the idea of youth sports is to teach young people lessons that go beyond blocking, tackling and running precise pass routes.
And last week, those young football players in Chino learned that far too many adults still haven’t grown up.
So if you’re heading to Atlanta for tonight’s Chick-fil-A Bowl showdown between No. 14 Clemson and No. 9 LSU, or to Tampa for Tuesday’s Outback Bowl matchup between No. 11 South Carolina and No. 19 Michigan, try to take the outcomes in stride.
And if you’re still strutting or slumping due to USC’s four-year football winning streak over Clemson, remember that four weeks ago the Tigers beat the Gamecocks, 64-55, in men’s basketball.