Girls’ basketball games can be tough to watch.
A few years ago, the school at which I was serving experienced a tough playoff loss. Our girls had pretty much cleaned up in their first game, but sloppy play caught up to them in the second. The star player fouled out by the third quarter; two others would follow. You could tell the moment the downward spiral started: they started playing panicky, their shots becoming wild, turning the ball over, committing more fouls. By the fourth quarter, we were putting in eighth graders.
It was a 73-34 loss and the end of our tournament hopes. There were a lot of tears on our bench, and exhausted athletes are tough to console. I couldn’t do much but watch.
But that wasn’t what bugged me the most. What really got to me was the other teachers who left the stands and went home before the fourth quarter even started.
The reason wasn’t our girls’ performance; it was our crowd. Even by rural standards, some of our school’s traveling fans were absolutely horrid the entire game. They booed the refs, mocked them openly, questioned every single call, when clearly our girls weren’t doing themselves any favors.
Later, one of the teachers told me, “I left because I didn’t want to be seen as part of that crowd.”
I was reminded of the previous season when teachers made a point of skipping our boys’ games entirely over their poor play – ugly technical fouls, constant unsportsmanlike conduct. The teachers were trying to send the same message: “Right now I’m embarrassed to be associated with this school.”
But that night as our girls’ season faded, I stayed in the bleachers.