SPORTS OPINION: For the love of the game

Ally Seevers, Editor-in-Chief

In cross country, you will find some of the nicest girls you will ever meet. Girls that are wish you good luck on the line, cheer you on when you are both struggling in a race, and stand at the finish line after they just won to give each competetor a fist bump. But then there are girls who will elbow you in the stomach, speed up and move in front of you as you try to pass them, all so they can run 2 seconds faster than you. In cross country, there’s no officials watching your every move, throwing a yellow piece of cloth up every 5 seconds. It’s just you and your competitors, out in the middle of no where, racing to beat the clock and the girl in front of you. 

Similarly, no official stands over the court in high school tennis. There is no one to call lines or keep athletes accountable. Players are left to call their own lines, leaving them responsible for scoring and the outcome of the match. During a match at the Millard West Invite, I called a ball out, watching it bounce into the doubles alley. From my vantage point, 5 feet away from where it touched the ground, it looked out, but somehow, my opponent on the other side of the court saw it land in. She began pestering me about my call, making me feel small and telling me I was wrong. I ended up giving her the benefit of the doubt, even though I saw it go out, all because I wanted her to stop yelling at me. 

Through journalism, I sit on the sidelines at every game, inches from the playing field and all the action. From that spot, I hear all that’s said on the the court or field. I hear the yells after a big sack, the “and one!” after a drive to the hoop, and the not-always-nice conversations between the players. 

Unsportsmanlike behavior has become an ever-growing problem within sports, especially in high schools sports here in Nebraska. The Nebraska School Athletics Associations’ decision to ban backflips is a step in the right direction. However, the backflips aren’t always a problem, nor are they the only problem.

If an athlete backflips after a match, it’s usually because they just won a state championship title: something that is worthy of a backflip. They backflip because they just accomplished something they’ve dreamed of since they were a little kid.

It’s the things wrestlers do just before and right after a backflip that have gotten out of hand. From mimicking motions to shushing the crowd, some have taken their excitement to far. It is actions like these that should be called and pentalized, not a simple backflip.

A backflip isn’t all that different from a big dunk in basketball. Both are showboating, and yes, maybe even a little bit taunting, yet only one is considered unsportsmanlike conduct. Same with players celebrating after a big sack in football or volleyball, who celebrates after every single point. That is celebrating, just like you would celebrate after you just won a state title match, so why can they celebrate but wrestlers can’t?

Sportsmanship is something that does need to be regulated. Sports were invented to bring people together, not pit people against each other. But at the end of the day, these are high school students: teenagers who are still growing, maturing, and learning each and every day. They’re just kids playing the sport they love. They should be allowed to celebrate, show off a little, and just have fun.