EXAMPLES MOTIVATE ORGANIZATION’S EFFORTS THAT ENCOURAGE CIVILITY, INTEGRITY ON AND OFF THE FIELD
ST. LOUIS – Jan. 15, 2013 – Seeking to turn a negative into a positive, the St. Louis Sports Commission is once again announcing its Top 10 Worst Sportsmanship Moments from the past year. Every January, the organization singles out the bad and the ugly in fan, athlete and coach behavior. The Sports Commission, which coordinates a series of innovative sportsmanship programs through its affiliated St. Louis Sports Foundation and manages the National Sportsmanship Foundation, views the absurd and outrageous actions highlighted on the list as teachable moments.
“Episodes of bad sportsmanship have their place when trying to teach the principles of good sportsmanship,” said Solomon Alexander, director of the Sports Commission’s Sportsmanship Initiative. “They serve as a reminder of the behavior no one should exhibit in sports or anywhere else.”
Alexander tracks instances of good and bad sportsmanship throughout the year. He selects which incidents make the dubious list. In calling out such lapses of character and conduct, the Sports Commission hopes these moments spur people to reflect on their own approach as a coach, parent, athlete or fan – and shun poor sportsmanship. “Remembering to do what is right and to act with class ultimately makes sports and society better for all,” Alexander says.
To that end, the Sports Commission implements programs through its Sportsmanship Initiative that make youth sports more enjoyable and promote the values of respect, civility, selflessness and integrity at all levels. The organization also recently launched the National Sportsmanship Foundation, a national movement based in St. Louis that aims to change the way society views and values sportsmanship.
The Sports Commission also hosts the Musial Awards, which celebrate extraordinary moments and stories of sportsmanship from around the country. Formerly the National Sportsmanship Awards, the event was renamed in honor of St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial in November. The list of Musial Award recipients and their inspiring stories can be seen at www.musialawards.com. On the site, the public can nominate remarkable acts of sportsmanship to be considered for the 2013 Musial Awards set for the fall.
But back to the Not-So-Top-10 list. For the fourth year, the St. Louis Sports Commission presents the Top 10 Worst Sportsmanship Moments. Each incident is linked to additional details. Here are the 10 Worst from 2012:
#10. Atlanta airport workers pelt New Orleans Saints team bus with eggs: A few workers at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport apparently took their love for the hometown Falcons a bit too far earlier this football season. As the visiting New Orleans Saints boarded their team bus, the workers allegedly threw eggs at the vehicle – showing their disdain for the Crescent City visitors and apathy toward keeping their jobs in a tough economy.
#9. There may be no “I” in “team,” but 138-performance shows there is “me”: Grinnell College guard Jack Taylor grabbed national headlines in November when he set an NCAA record for most points scored in a single game with a 138-point outburst. Impressive? Sure. A credit to Taylor’s talent? Indeed. But in the spirit of what team sports are about? Not exactly. And that’s why the runaway point total makes the top 10 list. Taylor took an astonishing 108 shots – including 71 three-pointers. His teammates had 28 shots total. It wasn’t as if Grinnell needed all of Taylor’s scoring. The Pioneers won 179-104. Perhaps the fault is with the Grinnell coaches, who showed no sign of putting on the breaks. Promotional stunt or not, the one-man show seems to fly in the face of teamwork, selflessness and respect for the game.
#8. Braves fans shower field with trash: After a controversial call in the late innings of the Braves-Cardinals National League Wild Card Playoff Game in October, Atlanta fans showered their own field with garbage in protest. The outburst caused a 20-minute delay as crews scrambled to clean up the mess. St. Louis went on to win the game. This sparked another trash shower from fans – creating an embarrassing backdrop for the final game of future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.
#7. Youth coach arrested for attacking 12-year-old: Ionatana Alualu was arrested for assault on a 12-year-old football player. Alualu was an assistant coach for the Rock Solid Crusaders in the Hawaii Junior Prep Sports Association. An altercation broke out between a Rock Solid player and a member of the opposing team. Alualu allegedly sprinted onto the field and tackled the boy on the opposing team – causing a concussion when the child’s head slammed against the ground.
#6. Coach arrested for biting off another coach’s ear: Timothy Forbes, a Springfield, Mass., area youth basketball coach, was arrested for allegedly biting off part of the opposing head coach’s ear after a boys championship game in March.
#5. Fans use banana suits to taunt rival team: A rivalry game between Monessen, Pa., High School and Pittsburgh Brentwood High School turned ugly last February when three Brentwood fans dressed in banana suits began taunting Monessen players by calling them “monkeys” and “cotton-pickers.” Monessen’s team is mostly African-American and Brentwood’s is mostly white.
#4. Football coach knocks out opposing player: Nathan Harris, a Salt Lake City area youth football coach, was arrested on child abuse charges after stepping onto the field and knocking out an opposing player who seemingly broke away for an easy touchdown. The 13-year-old lost consciousness and suffered a concussion – effectively ending his season.
#3. Chiefs fans cheer their own quarterback being injured: When a football team performs poorly, fans usually clamor for the starting quarterback to be benched in favor of the backup. Kansas City Chiefs fans’ expression of displeasure crossed the line into heartless, classless behavior. Quarterback Matt Cassel took a hard hit in a home game against the Baltimore Ravens. As Cassel lay nearly motionless on the field, Chiefs fans cheered.
#2. Youth football coaches arrested for gambling on kids’ games: Nine youth football coaches in South Florida face felony bookmaking charges after police uncovered a high-stakes gambling ring involving a league for kids ages 5 to 15. Authorities say bets ranged anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000.
#1. Coach charged with robbing pizza parlor during team banquet: Daniel McGill, a California youth football coach, was arrested after he allegedly robbed a pizza restaurant at the same time his team was having a postgame party there.
Media Note: Solomon Alexander, author of the top 10 list, is available to talk with media about the worst sportsmanship moments, what can be done to avoid incidents like them, and the steps parents, coaches and fans can take to keep sports in perspective and create optimal athletic experiences for children. His experience and expertise – as director of the Sportsmanship Initiative and as a father and coach – give him unique insight on issues in youth sports and sportsmanship. To arrange an interview, please contact Brent Shulman, Sports Commission director of communications & new media, at 314-345-5121 or email@example.com.