Of Spoiled Brats & Sportsmanship
Thus far, we have been fortunate to escape the bullet of organized sports. However, our eldest is out to change all that, carrying with him, not only himself, but the rest of his family, on this wild ride.
Petya plays for his high school tennis team, as well as for the U.S. Tennis Assocation. It was at one of these recent tournaments that we saw an edition of Kids Gone Wild.
“Sir, you need to SHUT UP,” Petya’s opponent raged to my husband.
This was the third time that the kid tried to change the score, and about the tenth time that he had called one of Petya’s “in” balls as “out”.
My husband had had enough.
The boy had already engaged in several raucous rounds of “Really? Really?” to our son when the opponent’s serve was obviously out.
“Really? Are you sure? Did you actually SEE it? Then you must be blind! Either that, or you’re a liar!”
On and on the kid went, beside himself with fury. Even when Petya said something to him like “Good shot!”, the kid wanted to argue. We had never seen anything like it.
“Call a referee to come watch,” they advised. “Don’t get involved.”
“Who did your son play?” another asked as I nodded at a player in the end court, engaging in a Consolation Match Gone Crazy.
Both players were screaming with spectators beyond the fence also making calls as our favorite friend from the day before tried to cheat on every. single. shot.
“Oh, HIM,” a top pro shook her head. “I’ve been trying to coach him for years. He won’t listen to anyone. He goes from club to club, never taking advice, and wants to win so much that he constantly calls it wrong.”
Sure enough, a referee was called and put the spouting and pouting player in his place.
I visited the USTA website and found a section on “Dealing with Cheating”. Amazingly, a parent shared the following: “Unfortunately, some young kids want balls to be out so badly that they call what they want, not what they see! You can also take comfort that cheaters do gain a reputation on the circuit so that they will not prosper.”
Most of the advice shared on the site said to ask for a line judge immediately, or even before starting to play with a known cheater. Unfortunately, many of the referees have far too many courts to cover during tournaments and they will eventually need to tend to other mathces. This is when impartial volunteers may be deputized to stay and make line calls.
Some coaches online counseled to keep your own balls away from service lines, yet that only solves half the problem, if even that. With many asserting that a top female player cheated her way to the 2013 Australian Open by falsifying injury, the whole idea of poor sportsmanship is a subject that won’t go away anytime soon.
Our son didn’t hear the end of it for days. As soon as anyone caught the name of his second of three opponents during the tournament, they shook their heads without him saying a word. The kid’s reputation preceded him.
The kid lost the match to Petya, but not for want of trying to change every call and every point. Benedetto had a kind and compassionate word with the young man following the match, and even his parents told him firmly, “Listen to the man,” to which he turned away in anger.
As with anything in life, we learn from examples both good and bad. Though our son had never been exposed to this depth of deception before, he benefited from drawing the line at drama and keeping his cool. His other matches had refreshingly fun players who were top drawer, but pleasant and polite. May his reputation and life be the same.
—————-Tags: cheating in sports, do the "good guys" win in sports?, does honesty prevail in sports?, fudging on your score in sports, parenting blog and cheating in sports, parents overinvolved in kids' sports, teen tennis "lessons", tennis tournament cheaters, what children learn from sports