Phil Pash's Simply Sports: What's expected of sports fans

Sportsmanship is one of those things people always talk about, but few practice.

Chris Pash, my older son, is assistant principal/athletic and activities director at Farmington (N. Mex.) High School, which has an enrollment of more than 1,550. He and the other ADs from the four San Juan County school districts were approached by school superintendents to craft a unilateral sportsmanship policy and program of expectations for sports fans in the county.

The Farmington Daily Times, a Gannett newspaper (you never can escape the “Big G”), published a story, “Sportsmanship: A lost art for players and fans?” I offer this excerpt from that story not because it mentions my son, but because sportsmanship, and a lack thereof, seems to be a problem everywhere, and this is how one New Mexico county is dealing with it:

“The result (of the ADs being approached) was the county’s Schools’ Program of Respect Through Sportsmanship, or the policy referred to by the acronym SPORTS.

“‘The schools in San Juan County are committed to fair play, ethical behavior and integrity—all critiical elements of good sportsmanship,” Pash said. ‘The values of good citizenship and high behavioral standards apply equally to all school activities, participants and fans.’

“In the written policy, which is displayed at all county schools’ sporting venues, are behavior expectations for parents and fans.

“Among those it states: ‘Realize that a ticket is a privilege to observe a contest and support activities. It is not a license to verbally assault others.’

“Another standard states: ‘Realize that being openly confrontational with a coach or an official on the contest day is counter-productive to good sportsmanship.’

“While the policy sounds good, the reality is that as soon as visiting teams are introduced, the booing begins. And as soon as a game starts, it becomes open season on the game officials and often visiting players.

“When queried as to when that sort of behavior crosses the line, Pash said, ‘I think it’s when you’re standing up screaming at an official or another player in a situation where your voice is audible. And I think it crosses the line when you use profanity. And there may be other situations, like throwing something on the floor.’”

Chris said it has helped to have a written policy for everyone to read.

Chris’ latest thing is a “Pack the Park” effort, like we have “Pack the Gym” nights around here. But this is for a May 6 baseball game between the Farmington Scorpions and the Aztec Tigers under the lights at Ricketts Park.

You may have heard of Ricketts Park; it’s a very nice facility and home of the annual Connie Mack World Series. Several Rockford teams have been to Farmington for that event over the years.

Anyway, Farmington High students with ID will be allowed in free, youth players in uniform will be admitted free, all others will be charged $2 for adults and $1 for children ages 6-18. There will be giveaways, drawings, mascots and a live radio remote before the game.

The Rockford Park District has a nice facility at Marinelli Field that might be used for some special high school baseball games. And why don’t the Rockford Icemen play a preliminary game or two to Rockford IceHogs games in the MetroCentre?

Scott Leber of WTVO-TV-17, whom I consider Rockford’s most reliable media source for sports news, said Rockford Lightning head coach Chris Daleo is being sought by the Gary Steelheads of the CBA.

“I’m still gung-ho on the Lightning,” Daleo told Leber on camera April 28. “I’m still with the Lightning, and I’m still employed with the Lightning.”

But if he wants to become the next head coach of the Steelheads, all he has to do is say “yes” to Gary owner Jewell Harris Sr. Daleo confirmed to Leber he is the guy the Steelheads want.

“They say I’m their No. 1 choice for the position,” said Daleo. “I think they have to put together some sort of proposal that would sway me.” Daleo said he has held discussions over the phone with Harris, and they also have talked in person.

Daleo still has one year remaining on his Lightning contract, and Lightning general manager Michael Neville said, “If they do make Chris an offer, we would sit down with Chris and discuss what that offer was. And we would see what we could do to keep Chris in Rockford.”

“I’m very happy here,” said Daleo. “But it’s always interesting to hear what exactly you’re worth. Its flattering. We just have to wait and see.”

In those really bad commercials for the NBA playoffs, when they say, “Let the truth be told,” what the hell are they talking about? Whose truth? Who’s doing the telling? What does that mean?

From the May 4-10, 2005, issue

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