Poor sportsmanship is a poor choice


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Last weekend during a junior varsity basketball game between the Houston Hawks and Eagle River Wolves, the crowd was treated to a disturbing display of shock theater.

Unfortunately, a serious collision between two ballplayers resulted in a gashed forehead for a Hawk and a badly broken nose for a Wolf. Play was stopped to clean up the excessive amount of blood.

When this type of injury happens it’s never fun for players, parents or fans that might be blood-squeamish.

After the Eagle River player was carted off to the hospital and the Manson-esque crime-scene cleanup was completed, play resumed.

And then it happened.

At the final buzzer, a Houston player made a half-hearted dive for a loose ball, and when he got back to his feet, the gym erupted with deafening screams and groans.

It seemed a Houston player had severely dislocated his shoulder and his arm unnaturally contorted around the back of his neck, hanging freakishly down the wrong side of his body. He stumbled toward the bench and disappeared into a group of players and coaches, while the visiting fans and players tried to comprehend and recover from another gruesome scene on the court.

The extent of the injury and crowd reaction reminded me of the scene during last year’s Duke-Louisville basketball game when Kevin Ware sent a leg bone through his skin in front of players, fans and the television audience.

The buzzer sounded and the injured lad wandered back onto the court smiling and flexing his arms. It seemed he’d reset his shoulder and the Wolves fans and players breathed a sigh of relief.

It soon became apparent, however, that the whole incident was a ruse. The upsetting scene was caused by a ball player with a trick shoulder, the pursuit of attention, and a coaching staff that allowed it to happen, apparently several times during the season.

While the Houston-Eagle River games weren’t conference competitions, the scene at the end of the JV game was completely uncalled for. The attempt to show off skills like this should be saved for the school talent show, a Halloween party or a shock video. It shouldn’t be performed on the court in front of young kids, visiting players and grandparents.

Hopefully a referee or two will read this and be prepared to drop a technical foul if it happens in the future. And coaches, you might want to rethink your part in this side-show. If you’re allowing this prank to take place on the court, you’re responsible for it. It isn’t a cartwheel or back-flip during the halftime show. To fake a serious injury is a cheap stunt that shouldn’t be encouraged.

 

— Dan Dirscherl

Eagle River

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