Most people want to advocate sportsmanship until it comes time for them to put on their big boy pants and show it themselves.
Saturday night at the DCSAA boys basketball title game, it seemed as though St. John’s head coach Patrick Behan and his team dropped their proverbial sportsmanship pants after Wilson stole their (championship) belts.
For whatever the reason – the crowd behind their bench/a hard foul during the game/blowing a 10-point halftime lead – Behan felt the need to walk his players straight to the locker room following the double-overtime thriller and not shake hands or congratulate the Wilson team on their first-ever state championship. The action did not go unnoticed and left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Or as one neutral spectator said to me, “That is why I don’t root for those private school bastards.” Well, neutral at the beginning of the day, I guess.
Again, the Wilson student section was “strategically” situated right behind the St. John’s bench. Were they rowdy and probably rude throughout the game? I wouldn’t doubt it.
Was there some chippiness in the game, including a hard, but clean foul that sent one of the Cadets’ players crashing to the ground? Yes, there was.
Did some of the Tigers players, after finally securing the win and their first-ever state title, run over to the student section and ignore the Cadets’ players as they celebrated with their classmates? I guess you can say so.
Then, after going to the locker room, St. John’s reemerged a short time later to get their trophy. This time the Cadets players and coaches stood around while the Tigers received their trophy, but then once again retreated without any acknowledgement to their opponents. So with that it became pretty obvious that there was a concerted effort on Behan’s part not to congratulate Hernandez or his team.
Regardless of all of the aforementioned reasons, they still are not good enough to rush off the court like a bunch of sore losers and not congratulate, at the very least, Wilson coach Angelo Hernandez on a game well-played. I could only imagine the backlash a public school like Wilson would receive if the Tigers pulled something like that, and walked off the court following a tough loss without showing any sort of sportsmanship toward the mighty private school.
It sucks to lose. I get it. Especially in the state championship in double-overtime after letting a double-digit lead slip away. The middle school team I coached back in 2010-11 was 22-0 before we lost by one point in our tournament championship to a team we had beaten twice before. Sure it was only middle school ball, but the championship meant just as much. Did I want to say “Good game” to 15 different people one after another immediately after the loss? No. Did I want to sit for what felt like an eternity and watch the other team get its medals? Hell no. But I was the adult, and the role model to my younger players, and it was the right thing to do. And I would have wanted the other team to do the same had the roles been reversed.
I won’t blame the kids for the action. They were probably doing what they were told to do. And even one St. John’s player, Delonnie Hunt, was seen shaking some hands. Kudos to him for knowing right from wrong, and being the bigger person.
Too bad I can’t say the same for Behan and his staff. He might be a big person, but only physically and not metaphorically.
Shawn McFarland is the managing editor of The Current and is not afraid to call it like he sees it.