Fans will often witness an elbowing match between competitive spirit and sportsmanship. The two usually co-exist quite well, but sportsmanship took a black eye the other night in New Glasgow at the hands of a mean-spirited take on competition.
A junior hockey game at the Wellness Centre Thursday night between the Pictou County Weeks Crushers and Truro Bearcats was marred by the actions of a Truro player who mocked an opponent. That resulted in some heated exchanges and scuffles toward the end of the game.
What set this off? The target of the Truro player was a member of the Crushers who has Tourette’s.
Hockey is an intense game, to be sure, where tempers come into play, but mocking someone’s medical condition is no heat-of-the-moment thing. It goes beyond the simple jab of ribbing somebody by calling him a sad sack.
Let’s stop and consider what happens when an athlete is taunted because of race or nationality – how acceptable is that? Not at all. The public reaction is swift and it can be furious. The same goes – within the sporting arena and without – when it comes to gender, sexual orientation or mental health issues. Society is becoming increasingly sensitive when criticism enters the realm of a personal, tactless smear.
Athletic squads are out to win, that we understand. But members should also realize, both at home and when playing as visitors in a neighbouring town, they stand as ambassadors for their own community. By playing their best, and doing it with grace, they bring out pride from the folks at home. Boorish behaviour, though, is bound to elicit shame among their friends, family and neighbours.
The Truro team, we trust, will resolve this matter satisfactorily. The last comments from team officials indicated they wished to handle the matter internally.
In the meantime, the best local fans and bystanders can do is keep to the high road. And for the team, the way to beat their opponents is at the game.