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Holloway: Lessons from a youngster
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He didn’t have to take the penalty. His opponent wasn’t going to report the infraction and hesitated to even bring it up. North Hall golfer Jimmy Lloyd could have accepted the out he was offered and gone on with his round in Tuesday’s Hall County Championship.

No harm, no foul.

He was in the mix for low medalist honors, his team was in a tight battle with Johnson for the team trophy, and the fact that Lloyd had laid down his putter in the line of his shot was almost certainly not going to factor into whether or not he made the shot.

But Lloyd reported his mistake.

He may not have known that it would be the difference in winning and losing, but he knew it would cost him and his team two precious strokes.

But he took the penalty. He did the right thing. And his team ended up losing in a playoff.

It could be passed over as a situation unique to golf, but really, it’s sportsmanship — from both Lloyd and the opposing golfer. The American Heritage dictionary defines it as “conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants in sports, especially fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing.”

As adult spectators, we’re often quick to bemoan the younger, “me-first” generation of athletes. It’s said sportsmanship is a thing of the past; that the individual supercedes the team in today’s games.

It’s true that some of the high-stepping, loud-mouthing, chest-pounding antics of professional athletes have filtered down to their high school counterparts. Thankfully, though, the kid flipping into the end zone on his way to a touchdown is still the exception to the rule.

In fact, the attitudes and actions seen on the courts and fields of play are often more sportsmanlike than those on display in the bleachers by folks old enough to know better.

“Body slam her!”

A grown woman actually yelled that during a recent high school basketball game (though I’m happy to report it wasn’t a fan of one our local high schools).

Then there were fights in the stands between opposing fan bases at another recent playoff basketball game that required police and pepper spray intervention.

So where’s the real problem?

It might be the “my-kid-first” mentality of too many parents.

What’s more likely is neither the game nor the fans have changed as much as we sometimes say.

Opposing basketball players still slap hands before tip-off. Winning baseball teams still line up for the obligatory “good game” handshake with the losers after the game. Fans still get caught up in the heat of the moment and say things they’d die for their preacher to hear, and behave in ways they punish their kids for behaving.

The games are still the same, and so are the athletes, even if they celebrate in ways we never did, or pout more demonstrably than we think is necessary.

Though it might not always be seen in the same way showed this week at the Hall County golf championship, rest assured in the future. The kids are alright.
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