I don’t remember ever going into a “hostile environment” as a swimmer.
Sure, the water might not have been the temperature I preferred (the warmer the better), or the walls may not have been the easiest for making a turn (especially on that final turn of the 200-yard butterfly), or the starting blocks may not have have been to my liking.
But we were never greeted with a chorus of boos from the fans in the stands (well maybe we were, but a crowd of six people really can’t make much noise).
I was thinking about these things while at Villanova’s basketball game last night. I understand that booing an opposing player or the ref is part of the game, but sometimes I think it goes too far, it gets too personal.
Yea, a guy throws an air ball, he’s going to hear it.
But what about a player who’s been suspended for violating team rules, plead guilty to a misdemeanor, took an anger management course, and is just now making his season debut, 15 games into the season? Does he need to be booed every time he enters the game and touches the ball? Did a fan have to yell out “Nobody likes you!”?
Myles Davis of Xavier University is a young man who has admitted to making a mistake; here’s the statement he released after he was reinstated to the team just this past weekend:
“I have learned from this mistake. I am not a perfect person. I made mistakes. I allowed myself to lose focus of what was important, and what was right and what was expected of me. As difficult as this time has been, it has made me a better person. I faced my consequences and felt what it was like to lose so many things that matter so much to me.
“I am appreciative of the chance to return for the remainder of my senior season. I am looking forward to playing my part in helping Xavier compete for a Big East championship and much more.”
I’ll admit to not knowing much about this Myles’ situation, but it looks like he’s taken responsibility for his actions, and has done what was asked of him by the courts and his coach.
I’m sure it won’t be easy for him; it’s likely everywhere his team visits he will get the same reaction. But it appears as if he is willing to deal with his problems in a very public way because of his love of the game and his teammates.
So I think we should give Myles, and others like him in a similar situation, a second chance. Playing basketball is perhaps the one place he finds peace, and some fans are going to boo him and try to take that away from him?
Hopefully fans will realize that winning a basketball game isn’t more important than a person’s life.
I’ll close with the great quote from Teddy Roosevelt which I’ve long admired:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Those words express exactly what I was feeling during the game last night when I heard the boos.
I wish Myles the best, although I’ll still be rooting for Nova next time they play Xavier…