99% Positive, 1% Not So Much.
I can’t express enough how proud I am of our football Bruins. When they opened the season with the scrimmage versus South Adams, the scrimmage opened with a 65-yard touchdown run by the Starfires. Probably many, like myself, felt like “that’s not a good sign.” But that was just one play and one play, despite what many armchair quarterbacks may say, does not make a game nor a season.
The next week the Bruins led for nearly the entire game before succumbing to Jay County in the final seconds. It was heart-breaking. It certainly stung. Rather than pouting about and packing it in, like some teams do, this Bruin team used it to motivate themselves and press on. The next week would start a 6-game winning streak and give the football program their best start in school history! Two weeks after that they played for a share of a CIC title. Three weeks later the Bruins played for a Sectional title. Early Friday, the Bruins were leading the 5th ranked team in 3A and stood toe to toe with them for much of the first half before the Braves athleticism gradually took control. The win was well-earned by the Braves. It certainly wasn’t due to any lack of effort by Coach Sehy’s Bruins.
What made it special for me was watching the excitement of the fans, especially all the kids (of all ages) leading up to kick-off. You could sense the pride in our Bruins. Our community was basking in the glow of their success as they have done all Fall. That’s what sports can provide for a community. That’s not to take away from the other positive things that go on within our community, but it’s great when sports can bring a community together especially when it involves our youth. Better yet, our Bruins accomplished it by representing their community in way that showed much maturity, pride, and respect for the game.
Win or lose, being respectful for the game and learning values that many in the often quoted “real world” have apparently forgotten is a breath of fresh air. In the end, we hope these young men (all our students) learn that there things you can do to make life more positive and meaningful if done the right way. Our Bruins are certainly headed in the right direction. At the same time, the Bruins are learning that doing things “the right way” will usually lead to more successes on the field, courts, or track.
How is that so? There are reasons some past teams didn’t have as much success. To name a few….lack of numbers, being put down by fans and students, not showing up for practices, disciplines issues, lack of leadership, no respect for the game, no real school spirit, etc. But slowly, over time, those negatives have disappeared, the talent level has gotten a little better overall, and things have started to change. A big part of that is the culture has improved. If the culture surrounding you is negative, most likely you will find excuses that hamper your efforts. If the culture is positive, you will find more optimism and more team unity which leads to the thought process of a team over individual mentality. The result is a team that goes into battle knowing that their teammates have their back because they are in the trenches day in and day out together. That’s why you often hear “band of brothers” when referring to football teams. It sure isn’t easy playing football, but it can be very rewarding to those that survive the challenges within. Yes, talent level does play into success, but regardless of the talent level, teams that are on the same page, push each other every day, and hold each other accountable, usually have more success.
What happens next? You start to feel a sense of pride in what you and the team have created and accomplished. You develop a sense of pride. The game becomes bigger than you. Then, as just mentioned, you begin to hold each teammate accountable for living up to the expectation that has been established and eventually it becomes “this is what Bruins do!” and you pass it down to the new kids every year. Eventually it becomes tradition. And you begin to carry yourself in a better manner. You show sportsmanship and respect for the game. You take pride in how you do everything on the field (and, hopefully, off). You even share with players on the other team (who are no different than you as they go through the same things on one scale or another) by picking them off the ground, patting them on the back for a nice hit, handing the ball to the official, etc. You now are determined to succeed!
So in the end, although we didn’t win the title, we actually won (earned) something more important….the Bruins earned respect! You earn respect for how you play the game and how you represent yourself in all you do. And I think these Bruins have proven that to all by how they played the game each Friday night. I hope they can share that with other athletes at BHS and BJHS. If so, we will continue to move forward.
However, I have to admit there was one disappointment Friday night and, sadly, it had nothing to do with the kids on the field nor the kids in the stands. I bring this up because it is not fair to toot our horn about the great things we are doing when everything isn’t so great.
That disappointment was with a few fans complaining very loudly (when I went to the bus area 150 yards away I could easily hear the complaints from the stands) about every call, or mostly the lack of, made on the field by the officials much of the night. To me, this took away from the experience and poorly reflected on the 99% who were doing their best to stay positive and cheer on our Bruins.
Once again I ask, what positives came from those comments? Did it help our team? No. Did it cause officials to suddenly make calls that favored us? No. Did it represent our cheering section and community in a positive light? No. So who benefitted? Worse, what did the Brebeuf fans take away from their experience of hosting the Bruins? I can guess, “Their kids really played hard, but their fans…..” We are better than that.
After about the third time their public address announcer made it clear that Isaac Justice was having one heck of the night “on both sides of the ball” (his words), I was hoping those few would realize that you earn respect for your efforts of doing good works rather than complaining about calls that might not go our way.
A reminder for those few that did not represent us very well….
To preface: “Their holding! Come on ref. You’re blind! Homer!”
1) Officials don’t try to cheat anyone. Keep in mind that someone is probably holding every play of the game. Why? They are trying to get their blocks and sometimes it happens and, yes, some are trying to because it helps and most times aren’t caught. Regardless, officials call what they see. And 5 officials cannot watch 11 (on offense, but there is also defensive holding so really 22) kids at the exact same time. It is impossible.
2) Officials are feet or yards from the play. Fans are 30-80 yards away. Big difference. Sadly, some yell only because someone else is, but two things to consider. One, an official may see the kids hands much clearer being so close. Secondly, your peripheral view from the stands is much greater from a distance than an official so close to a player. So the official may miss another player that you might see with a more distant view. Again, they are doing their best to call what they see.
3) I am guessing that much of the frustration stemmed from the Bruins getting beat. Hey, the Bruins were 29-point (or so) underdogs according to Sagarin. Why not realize that we were playing our hearts and support the kids on the field rather than berating the officials who had nothing to do with the outcome of the game? Why can’t we just go home saying “you know what, we played really well, but Brebeuf was just better tonight”?
4) Officials are leaving the game (in all sports) in droves. THAT IS A FACT. You know why? They are tired of getting abused by fans. Officials officiate for low pay because they enjoy still being a part of the game and want to help kids. Keep berating them (the number one cause for officials quitting) and eventually there will be no more games because you can’t play without officials. No one deserves to be miserable trying to do something they love.
5) How many enjoy being yelled at by their boss or anyone for that matter? Does it make you want to work harder at your job or whatever you are doing? Probably not. Then why do we feel an official will officiate better if we mock every call he makes?
6) Officials are humans and are not blind. They call what they see. Yelling at or mocking officials will not cause them to make calls in your favor contrary to what some believe. THAT IS A FACT. Just ask ANY official (believe me, I often do).
7) AND WORSE…. I saw one instance all night where one of our players, who is a great kid, throw his hands up after a call out of frustration. I am guessing he never would have done that, but after hearing what he heard from the stands all night (since writing this a parent has informed me that several kids heard the comments from the stands of which one in particular bothered them a lot) he finally came to the conclusion that “maybe it is the officials fault?” And that’s a major problem. When kids start reacting to what is going on in the stands they are no longer playing as a team because they being to look for excuses and no longer focused on what they should be doing. They are feeding off the fans and, in this case, not in a positive way. What is now happening is the our fans are negatively impacting our kids ability to stay focused and on task. You are now hurting our team!
I can’t say it enough as we move forward. Leadership should be top down and it should start with the adults. Basketball season is probably going to find Bruin Gym packed several times. And how our fans carry themselves is either going to have a positive effect on the team (get them pumped to play their best) or it’s going to be a negative (distract and negatively impact their performance).
I hope we choose to be positive. Let’s be trendsetters rather than the cultural norm of negativity. If that occurs, more and more will want to come see our Bruins and see what a great experience is all about. And more kids will want to play! And you will also find that the best officials will want to come work our games because they will enjoy their experience as well!
Thanks again to those 99% who were supportive and positive Friday night and to those who weathered the cold and rain the past few weeks. You were outstanding! To all, let’s work on bumping that 99% to 100%.
In conclusion thank you to Coach Sehy and his staff, the managers, and the team for an absolutely enjoyable experience this fall. You made us proud with your efforts! Thanks for representing us with class and proving that we can all still BELIEVE IN THE BRUINS!