Club SportsSports

Pressure from media, fans excessive

What’s the saying everyone tells you when you’re young and just learning how to play sports?

It’s just a game?

Yeah, that’s the one. The reason I bring it up is because people have forgotten it lately (including me). Too many things have happened in the past three weeks surrounding Oregon sports that have gotten people in an uproar, and we all need to be reminded of why we watch sports: Because they’re supposed to be fun.

Remember when you were young and the most important thing about little league wasn’t whether you won or lost, it was what the post-game snack was going to be? Somewhere that has been lost by the athletes who play in the games and the fans who watch them.

More than ever we see athletes getting chippy on the playing field and fighting. And when you look up into the stands fans are cursing opposing players they don’t even know.
The biggest display of this was the Oregon-Boise State game on Sept. 3. We all know what happened — but the thing we should look at is why. Why did LeGarrette Blount punch Byron Hout? Why did he then decide to go after a few fans? Was it just that he was so upset at what was said?

Whatever the reason, I don’t buy it. It was in part due to how poorly he played, coupled with the Ducks’ poor performance. Add the enormous pressure fans and the media put on both teams, and it was a perfect storm for something like that to happen.

The game became more than just a game, and that’s when we should all take a step back and take a very, very deep breath. When we get so upset over something that we have the urge to punch someone, it’s no longer a game. What Blount did was wrong, and he was punished for it. But that still doesn’t stop the problem. He wasn’t the first to get caught up in the heat of the moment and punch another player, and unfortunately he won’t be the last.

The question that I want to ask is when did it become all right for athletes to throw tantrums and detract from the game itself? Why do athletes think they can throw racquets, clubs or helmets in frustration or get into someone’s face and taunt them? What ever happened to saying “good game” and letting your performance do the talking? What happened to dealing with adversity without muttering curse words for everyone to see?

One reason is the enormous pressure the media and fans put on athletes. Everywhere you go people expect their team to go undefeated and win every big game. I’m guilty of it. Leading up to the Boise State game I kept on hyping the game in my articles. I deeply regret it because I became part of the problem instead of the solution. It’s the media’s job to comment on games and report what happened, and in this day and age it seems like we have also become an apparatus to focus the hype to huge proportions. Of course, it’s easier to say what the problem is than to fix it, but I truly am going to try to be part of the solution.

Pretty soon, we all look at a game as this big contest with the outcome becoming more than just a score. It ruins your day if your team loses. It seems as if the world has come to an end and nothing will make it better.

Just imagine what it’s like for the players themselves. They’re in a pressure cooker, with the fans and media on one side, then coaches and their own expectations on the other. Unfortunately, we are past the point of return where everyone is going to just calm down. Things are just going to get more intense and I don’t know if that’s what sports need.

But perhaps the biggest reason that I have overlooked this is the money factor. When you add millions of dollars to anything the stakes are raised. Naturally, the athletes playing in the contests realize that how they do very well could affect their financial status. One missed basket or putt could be the difference between $10 million and $1 million.

So let’s try and take things back to the playground, where if you threw a tantrum you had to sit out. No one wants to see grown men and women throw fits on TV.

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