Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wrestler’s behavior raises larger questions

Just over a week ago, an area wrestler was tossed out of a tournament and later cited with assault of an official – a first-degree misdemeanor – and misdemeanor disorderly conduct, charges that will be handled by juvenile authorities.
Before the incident was reported in a Lancaster County newspaper, wrestling fans throughout District 1 and throughout the state were flogging and blogging … or, in plain old English, lashing out with just about every negative comment imaginable in a number of wrestling site forums.
First and foremost, no one should condone the type of behavior that led to the wrestler’s disqualification. No one should question why he was charged, either, at least not after hearing the official explanation of the charges given by police or after reading the police report.
And, yes, his coaches had no other choice than to remove the wrestler from his team.
In other words, there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The individual’s behavior on the mat, and later off the mat, was unacceptable. And he must be held accountable for all of those actions.
However, there is one issue about this incident – and others similar to it – that I (and I’m not alone) wonder about.
When did so many people, actually a frightening majority of our society, become such experts on virtually anything and everything about sports, not to mention authorities on the human behavior of the athletes who play sports?
Perhaps it’s all the talk shows we watch on television or listen to on radio. Of course they can be convincing, with all the celebrity hosts and endless cast of former all-pros who do indeed know something about athletic competition. But most if not all of their thoughts, ideas, opinions and criticisms relate to the professional and high-level collegiate games.
So, do we apply those same patterns of thought to high school athletes? Do we put the high school athletes under the same microscope that we do the professional and high-profile college athletes?
Can we?
Should we?
Two good questions, really.
In light of how we’ve progressed as a sports society (which I and others still hate admitting) – and how we put so much pressure anymore on young athletes to not only play but win at all costs – the answers are an emphatic yes from most.
But not from all.
What happened just over a week ago was the result of a very immature and young student-athlete – a minor – with personal problems, or issues as the experts say.
Tossing his name around and revealing every little temper tantrum or shortcoming he’s had in his short life on Web sites and in forums, playing judge and jury, and demanding that his coach and school district do this and that … well, that’s very callous, and arguably one of the reasons why the wrestler responded with a few unnecessary responses of his own.
The individual does indeed have personal issues, one of which is overcoming the loss of his mother from cancer. He’s been served his punishment, and will have to deal with additional legal punishment, too.
It’s nothing that anyone else should feel good about, either. But it is something that everyone else who is a fan of wrestling and high school sports in general should truly hope helps the young man turn his life around.


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