Basketball notes - Sportsmanship issues resurface

February 28, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Without question, basketball is a game of passion.

Those highs and lows, ups and downs for players, coaches and fans alike provide the emotion that makes the sport a favored pasttime.

But even that emotion has its limits. There is a line between positively supporting a team or player and unsportsmanlike conduct that is insulting and destructive.

That line was crossed Tuesday night in a boys game between Monocacy Valley Athletic League rivals Boonsboro and Middletown.

As the Warriors were warming up before the second half, a ball went into the stands at Middletown, where a student grabbed the ball and would not return it to two Boonsboro players.


Warriors coach Chuck Ingram asked the student to return the ball several times, to which the student used various insults toward Ingram and the two players. Ingram then talked to game officials, who eventually restored order.

The student was later escorted out of the gym by Frederick County deputies.

On Wednesday, Ingram contacted a vice principal at Middletown. Alerted to the situation, Middletown school officials suspended the student for three days.

"I think it was ridiculous," Middletown athletic director Tim Ambrose said Thursday evening. "The young man should never have said anything. It was way rude and totally out of line."

Shaken by the incident, Boonsboro - which led by 15 points at halftime - lost the game, 70-60.

"Our feeling is high school players shouldn't feel intimidated," Boonsboro principal Rick Akers said. "It can be tough playing in front of a couple hundred people. ... You want the (fans) to have fun and cheer the team, but you also want it to be positive. You don't want them to be distracted or intimidated."

"I just think (bad) sportmanship, it's coming down from the pros to college, and now to the high school level," Ingram said. "I think it's a little out control at the college level ... and now kids think they have to do it in high school."

The unfortunate incident has re-opened the sportsmanship debate. Washington County director of athletics Yogi Martin said he will meet with county high school principals next week to discuss ways to deal with and prevent future incidents.

"Some people believe, 'Hey, I paid my money and I can do whatever I want,' and I assure them that is not the case," Martin said.

Even though the game is supposed to be fun, administrators say there needs to be guidelines to keep from ruining the value of the game for anyone.

"If a student can't behave properly at a game, we certainly have the right to keep that student from attending other games," Akers said.

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