March Madness, as most of you know, is a term referring to college basketball play offs that are scheduled in March. We are now in the thick of those playoffs. What you might have noticed is aggressive and violent acts among coaches, players and fans throughout the year. Here are a few examples of what we are seeing.
Fans who taunt and are aggressive:
After a technical foul was called on Hawaii in a game against UC Santa Barbara, a fan ran onto the court to confront Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold. The fan jumped in the coaches face, was verbally aggressive before being pushed by a few Hawaii players on his way back to his seat.
In February, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) was suspended for three games for shoving a fan in the closing seconds of OSU’s loss at Texas Tech. Smart fell out of bounds when trying to block a shot, was helped to his feet, and then shoved a fan who said something to him. Neither Marcus or the fan responded well.
Coaches who lose it:
Who could forget the brief tirade of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim against Duke as he screamed obscenities at an official while running on to the court, peeling off his jacket.
Kentucky coach John Calipari did what more and more coaches are seen doing–leaving the coaching box while yelling at an official.
Players who become overly aggressive:
During the Iowa –Michigan State game, Zach McCabe and Travis Trice (State) battled for position. Then, when the play was dead, McCabe decided to yank Trice’s arm. McCabe was given a technical foul and Russell Byrd (Michigan State) launched himself from the bench to engage in a mini scuffle on the court. He was ejected from the game.
Why do tempers flare? Well, it is competition, but the line between appropriate aggression and lack of self-control seems blurred at times.
One thought is that sports mirror what is happening in our larger society–more violence, a sense of entitlement, a erosion of civility and fair play, and a growing narcissism as acceptable behavior.
So what can you do to counter this trend? Here are 8 tips to manage anger in sports:
1) Less blame, more responsibility. Rather than blaming a ref, ranting on the side line, take responsibility and work on skills. If more parents would model less talk about unfair officials and take the time to help their kids accept responsibility and work on their skills, we would all do better.
2) Understand the difference between anger and over aggression. Anger is not wrong, but aggression that is over the top to others is a problem.
3) Parents, coaches and league officials follow the guidelines of your sport. There should be consequences for violence, rule violations and overly aggressive behaviors.
4) Model good sportsmanship. Whether you are a coach, player or official, you can model good sportsmanship. The other team has been working hard to be their best. If they beat you, work harder for the next game.
5) Keep your perspective. Remember this is a game, not a fight for life or death!
6) Lose well. If you lose, show some character and lose well. Respect the skills and great play of the other team.
7) Learn self-control at an early age. Everyone gets upset during a competitive game, but we can’t always act on our impulses and expect the outcome to be positive. Exercise self-restraint.
8) Show your skills, not your temper. The best way to get even is to win with a great performance, not by your mouth, bravado and fists!