What we have here, evidently, is failure to communicate. Some readers measure Navarre Press’ performance against their invariably biased interests and opinions, while we do our very best to honestly, objectively and responsibly report news.
For example, in an online story about Navarre High School’s 2-1 loss to Niceville in a boys’ soccer district championship game Friday, Navarre Press reported that two Raiders were ejected from the game after receiving red cards from the official. One player pushed an official after being carded and likely will receive further punishment from the Florida High School Athletics Association.
In soccer, players who receive red cards can’t be replaced. So Navarre was forced to play the last few minutes of the game with a two-man disadvantage.
A reader took exception with our reporting the penalties: “And leave it to Navarre Press to always make sure the negative is shown and not the positive of anything. This didn't even need to be printed.”
Obviously, we disagree. After the game, Navarre soccer coach Ken MacDonald told reporters “We had two players who were irresponsible, and it probably cost us the game.”
That’s not Navarre Press being negative. That’s the team’s coach giving an honest assessment of his players’ being unable to control their emotions and how their failure affected the team.
The reader evidently was embarrassed by the players’ oafish and immature behavior. The players probably also are embarrassed by their behavior (or should be). Navarre Press in no way is judging these players’ character; our writer reported what happened; it would have been irresponsible for him not to report penalties that had such an impact on the game.
In this column, though, I am allowed to register my opinion and offer my observations without restricting myself to an objective report of facts, and I observe this: Sportsmanship is more and more lacking from sports. I believe this is true at all levels, in all games, for all sexes. But mostly I see Navarre sports, so it is Navarre’s lack of sportsmanship to which I am most often exposed, and by which I am most often embarrassed.
Navarre’s football team had a tremendously successful season, finishing with a 14-2 record. If some players had controlled their emotions and avoided several foolish unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, in all likelihood would have beaten Pensacola. Instead, the Tigers took advantage of Navarre fouls to rally for a 25-24 win.
And in a basketball game earlier this year, a Navarre player was whistled for a foul after pulling in a rebound. Instead of handing the ball to the referee, the player slammed the ball to the floor in the opposite direction of the official and – surprise! – was whistled for a technical foul.
Fans are equally guilty, refusing to accept any suggestion that their players might commit infractions and rarely, if ever, holding their players accountable for their actions.
Once upon a time, most parents, teachers and coaches held sportsmanship as dearly – more dearly – than winning. Building good character with athletics was as important as teaching basic physical skills and game strategies.
Some readers will mistake this column for evidence of Navarre Press’ negativity. But hopefully some will understand this column is a personal observation of behavior I hope can be corrected. I support Navarre High School, its student-athletes, coaches, teachers and even its fans. But I want to be as proud of them for their character as I am for their success on the field or court.