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DAVIS: Look yourself in the eye

POSTED: January 25, 2008 5:04 a.m.

First things first, I am a fan of Mark Twain.

When I was a tot a bedtime book of mine was "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," read to me each night by my father, and from that time forward I have been a fan of Mark Twain.

Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were great characters, as was Jim, but none of them compared to the character that was the man who invented them.

The American humorist and lecturer was a walking quotation; wise and witty he would be today considered the perfect interview because of his endless ability to create sound bites.

I attended a prep basketball game recently that brought to mind a quote by Twain, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

I was, you see, sitting in a crowd of naysayers and one in particular caught my attention.

He had a high-pitched, dare say it, northern accent and refused to let the referee approach the scorers table without ranting about the state of the union.

Actually he refused to let the ball be passed or a shot be attempted without ranting, but the thing that peaked my interest was that he hadn’t a clue what he was talking about.

"Over the shoulder. That’s an over the shoulder!" Oddly enough, an "over the shoulder" call doesn’t exist. I’ll be the first to admit I could have missed something, maybe new terminology exists that I am unaware of, but I just don’t think so.

"It was a moving screen!" That particular quote reverberated off the rafters for several minutes after a player on the team he was cheering for was called for a charge. Apparently the man was under the impression that when two players from opposing teams are all by their lonesome on one end of the court a screen is even possible.

We can all get on board with the fact that a minimum of three people, two of which have to be on the same team, are needed for a screen to even be set, right?

Last, but certainly not least because it rendered me speechless, was a good ol’ mixing of the metaphors, "How do you look yourself in the eye," said the man to the referee after the referee had presumably made a poor call.

It was excusable once, laughable twice, mortifying the third time he said it.

Now, we have all been around parents that yell, or hollered as we like to say in southern lingo, but there’s a reason only coaches should holler at referees about the specificities of the game.

And let’s be honest, there are a number of coaches whose knowledge of the game is such that even they shouldn’t holler about technicalities.

We have all been around parents that yell, it isn’t that.

It’s the ones that yell without purpose, the ones that scream because that’s what people do at games, the ones that don’t let a walk be called or a shot get blocked without showing their disdain.

The ones that are incessant.

We all understand that you would rather die than see your children disappointed by a loss or embarrassed by a turnover so you stick up for them, but for the love of all things holy, and those of us in the stands that know what we’re talking about, do it properly.

You know what cured my parents of the affliction that is incessant hollering? A video camera.

My daddy liked to film his child playing sports and the first time he and his lovely wife, i.e. my mother, heard themselves hollering about a call they silently vowed to remain silent; they were embarrassed for themselves.

Don’t get me wrong they would get right fired up if a call actually was bad, but it cured them of incessant hollering, the kind of incessant hollering the good people of Hall County were subjected to the other night.

In turn, my parents resistance to shouting every time the ball was dribbled taught me to deal with things in a manner befitting someone with class and dignity, at least where sports were concerned.

Now, if you will permit, I am taking my classy and dignified chakras home and attempting to look myself in the eye.



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