In every sport there are unwritten rules of sportsmanship that are meant to respect the game. Several members of Keene State College athletics said they understand these rules and always keep sportsmanship in mind.
As many KSC sports teams’ seasons are winding down, they have had plenty of in-game experience to see and display sportsmanship. There are many traditions in a sport as old as baseball, and members of the KSC baseball program elaborated on the unwritten rules of America’s past-time.
In terms of honoring the game and behaving appropriately during competition, KSC Head Baseball Coach Ken Howe said he always stresses sportsmanship to his team, especially during games.
“I want my guys to act respectably in the dugout and on the field to our opponents,” Howe said. “For the most part in baseball, I would say it’s pretty fair both ways.”
Occasionally trash talking does occur in the midst of competition, and Howe said in those instances he always reprimands his players.
“Something will come out of our dugout, and I’ll yell at a guy. Something will come out of their dugout, and a coach will get on them,” Howe said.
Outside of the occasional comment from the players, displays of poor sportsmanship are more likely to come from the fans, but usually don’t have much if any effect because of the field’s proximity to the fans. Howe said he has a great understanding of this not only from his experience as a baseball coach, but also from his experience as a site supervisor for officiating crews for other sports games such as basketball, lacrosse and soccer.
Howe said, “Baseball is the type of sport where there’s not a lot of fan interaction because they’re [fans are] so far away, and if the fans do get involved, the umpire will say something to me or whoever the site supervisor is that day, and we’ll get them to calm it down.”
Howe added that comments from fans are “all a part of home field advantage,” as long as they are kept appropriate and positive.
In baseball, one of the most controversial and unsportsmanlike acts that can take place is a batter to charge the mound in an attempt to fight the pitcher. This has taken place both in the Major Leagues and at the college level, but Howe said in his 30 years of experience he has never witnessed a batter charge the mound.
Senior pitcher Cody Dube said, “It’s a very personal one-on-one battle,” referring to the relationship between the pitcher and the batter.
“I hate every batter that steps in the box, and I want to get them out,” Dube said. “So I guess at times you get ticked off; you get frustrated, but you have to keep your head level.”
Dube and fellow senior pitcher Keith Simpson both gave their definition of sportsmanship and explained how they behave on the field to uphold that standard.
“Respecting the name of the game and not showing up your teammates or showing up other players,” Simpson said.
Dube said sportsmanship means “Playing hard, rooting for your team and not against the other team, which can be hard at times.”
According to Howe, Dube and Simpson, the baseball team has not had any issues with other teams at home or on the road in regard to maintaining proper sportsmanship and behavior.
Another controversial issue in baseball is pitchers hitting batters with pitches intentionally. This may be done to send a message or stick up for their teammates if there was a dispute earlier in the game. According to Dube and Simpson, instances that could warrant a batter being hit could be if a runner is tagged too hard at the base, or if a batter flips his bat after a home run to excessively celebrate.
“It’s kind of a ‘protecting your teammates’ kind of thing,” Dube said. He also added that he does not share the same disdain for hitters who bat-flip after big hits.
Dube said, “If you hit a ball that well, I think a bat-flip’s kind of cool. It’s hard to hit a baseball that well and that stuff just makes me want to strike the next guy out more.”Simpson felt the opposite way saying, “I would be ticked,” and if someone were to do that to him he said “that’s when it’s personal.”
Women’s lacrosse Head Coach Katie Arsenault said, “I feel like sportsmanship shows a level of respect.” She added that if a team shows a lack of sportsmanship, “It just shows the cracks in a team.”
With an overall record of 9-6 and an undefeated (5-0) Little East Conference record, Arsenault described her team as a team that lets the scoreboard do the talking and never gloats or tries to embarrass teams for the sake of sportsmanship. However, Arsenault also said sportsmanship is not always easy to maintain, and that there have been “lessons learned.”
Arsenault referenced an instance six years ago when a player of hers made fun of an opposing player’s disease via twitter. She also discussed another scenario in a later season when the team posted an insulting Facebook post about an opposing team they had beaten.
Arsenault said an incident of that nature has not occurred since, and that the program has learned from its mistakes.
“I’ve trained them [the team] to not be a team like that because when it backfires it’s really bad,” Arsenault said.
Arsenault also discussed the differences between men’s and women’s lacrosse considering that the rules and equipment are different with the men’s game having more padding and allows checking and hitting. The aspect of checking not being a part of the women’s game could be a cause for more emotion in the women’s game, Arsenault said, as there aren’t as many ways for female players to “get their aggression out.” This also applies to trash talk on the field.
“I think men are less emotionally attached to things,” Arsenault said. “Females are going to hang on to what was said during that game. I always say that guys on the same team can get in a fist fight then go and play together and high five each other after they score. Girls can’t do that, and I think that’s why chemistry is so important.”
Although lacrosse is a game that is not as old as baseball it still has its own code. Repeatedly scoring after the game is well at hand or running up the score is considered disrespectful in lacrosse, as it is in many sports.
KSC head men’s lacrosse coach Mark Theriault said, “having the players respect the game is important.”
Theriault added that when the team has a large lead in a game, he and the coaching staff are always “making sure that we’re calling off the dogs,” and utilize the entire bench.
Theriault always stresses to his team to respect the game as all lacrosse players are a part of the same “fraternity” or “brotherhood.” He wants his players to understand that there is more to life than simply the game, and Theriault displayed that last season to both his team and Colby College.
Last year on November 19, Head men’s lacrosse coach at Colby College Jack Sandler tragically died of a heart attack at the young age of 35.
“He was a friend of mine,” Theriault said and had t-shirts made to commemorate Sandler.
Nick can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org