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Mitchell: Words louder than action at some sporting events
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I was seated at midcourt awaiting the tip in a basketball game between the Chestatee and Franklin County girls on Friday night for just five minutes before I had to do a double take to make sure I was in the right place.

It started when a certain loud-mouthed fan had found it appropriate to engage who I can only assume was his girlfriend in a heated argument, spewing profanities that would make even the most liberal of linguists turn red in embarrassment.

What’s worse, two young children sat by hearing the whole exchange.

When told to quit by an adult at the score table, he turned his aggression on her and only (finally) ended his soliloquy when a security guard was summoned to sit next to him.

By the end of the game, some chipiness on the court had turned into a full-fledged argument between parents on both sides, with some even signaling the opposition to have it out “face to face.”

Throughout much of the second half, one group of fans called out to players on the court, encouraging the opposition to “try to shove (their player) again.”

They were asked to move if they were going to try to start a fight.

“Fine,” one said. “We’ll start a fight over here.” And they left.

Somewhere between the inappropriate language and the childish behavior from students and adults alike, I had had enough.

We’re here to watch a basketball game; we’re here to watch (what should be) a friendly competition between peers.

Why has it become so commonplace to strip the focus from the game in favor of the competition in the stands?

And it’s certainly not only a characteristic of high school games. We see it in the stands at the Georgia Dome and Sanford Stadium, Turner Field and Philips Arena.

It’s a sign of society lacking the maturity to sit down at a sporting event and watch their friends, sons or daughters go for a victory on a level playing field.

To the high school students, I say cheer on your team. Let them know you’re behind them, and let the score speak for itself at the end of the game.

To the adults, I say act your age. Set an example for the younger spectators. If you don’t, who will?

And to those that are sitting silently by and watching it happen, fed up and offended with the language and behavior, I say speak up. We have the freedom to speak freely, but we should also have the freedom to take our children to a basketball game without fear of them being exposed to language they aren’t ready for.

I’m not trying to judge the language anyone uses in their own home. I’m all for an individual’s freedom to express themselves in any way they see fit.

But I think, given the setting, we should all use a little more discretion in what we say and how we conduct ourselves.

The two young children that overheard the heated exchange before the game? I noticed them mimicking the rest of the crowd, loudly jeering the opposing fans some time later.

They see everything you do. Let’s show them the appropriate way to act.