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MCMURRY: Sportsmanship starts with coaches, parents, and spectators

Last week New York Yankees Manager Aaron Boone lost his cool and blew up on a young umpire before being tossed out of the game. It was a tirade for the ages and trended on social media and all over the Internet for much of the weekend. Within hours fans and supporters of the Yankees were rejoicing Boone and news outlets were saying he has more support now in New York than when he sent the Yankees to the World Series with a walk-off home run over the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS. He did what? And they reacted how? Coaches arguing with officials has always been part of sports but at what point did we say it was okay to take it as far as disrespecting not only the officials, but the game itself? This past winter I helped Clayton Randolph coach the eighth-grade basketball team at Northridge. Randolph is also a football, basketball, and baseball official. It was a unique experience to watch, because I knew he had to stand up for his players, but at the same time as an official, he knew where the line was and not to cross it. Before every game he would warn me that he might get a technical. He never did. In Montgomery County I feel like we are pretty blessed with good coaches, good parents, and overall good athletes. And there’s a reason they all go hand-in-hand. Sportsmanship matters now more than ever before. In a society where we’ve deemed it okay to tear others down and make everything about ourselves, it us up to the current generation of coaches and parents to turn our young athletes back in the proper direction. Young athletes can learn habits from watching professional athletes on television, but the lessons they learn from their coaches and parents stick with them for a lifetime. I want to take time to share some observations that I have jotted down over the last couple of years when it comes to how coaches, parents, and spectators have handled themselves and why it matters to the athletes. It is no secret that Crawfordsville boys basketball coach David Pierce holds his players to a higher standard. I had a chance to sit in on a couple of practices this past season and even a life lesson session about not only carrying your own rock, but someone else’s too. Pierce loves winning, but what he cares about most is molding young men, and you see positive examples of that with each graduating kid. On game days the entire program and their parents rally around the Athenians. Something I haven’t seen in a long time, and something I believe is more important than any game to be played. On a couple of occasions I have watched a coach walk out of a locker room following a sectional loss with tears in their eyes and arms around their players. In one example I had heard the coach was contemplating resignation, but decided to stay because their returning players wanted them to. That coach truly cares more about their players than winning, and in result has bolstered those players as individuals. Now for a couple of negative observations. A couple years ago I was at the wrestling regional and witnessed a coach give up on their wrestlers. With guys still on the mat, this coach was pouting in the hallway, because they felt their team didn’t live up to expectations. This coach instilled a win at all cost mentality, and while their teams won a lot, it turned off a lot of people, and that vision that day definitely left a sour taste in my mouth. There have also been the instances where parents and spectators try to talk to players from the stands. Whether it’s coaching or yelling — there is nothing that I disagree with more than this. Teaching our young athletes proper sportsmanship will make them better individuals down the road in life. As mundane as it is, I love the IHSAA sportsmanship slogan that is read before each sporting event. Let the players play, let the coaches coach, let the officials officiate, and let the spectators be positive. As coaches and parents it is your duty to teach your kids and athletes how to win with pride and lose with dignity. It matters. Being a good sport matters. Jared McMurry was born and raised in Montgomery County and is the Sports Editor of the Journal Review. He can be reached by phone at 765-918-8656 or by email at

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