Dismayed by poor sportsmanship

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I’ve attended Grayson County High School sporting events for several years now as a parent and as one who enjoys watching young people compete.
Recently, I sat in front of an elementary aged child on the bleachers. Throughout the game she shouted at the referees, made sarcastic remarks to the opposition, booed and screamed, “Cheaters, cheaters!” It was obnoxious.
Then it dawned on me she was only imitating what she hears from the adults.
I am increasingly dismayed with the rudeness of many fellow spectators. I know most of our parents and fans, and all are good people who make Grayson County such a special place. People from other schools who don’t know us are finding that hard to believe.
As Americans, we feel our right to free speech justifies about anything we want to say in public. But we have to realize how our behavior reflects on our players, our school and even the whole county. We are becoming known at other schools as the “rude” people.
I have never seen a game where barking insults at the officials or the opposing team ever changed the outcome. Our players win or lose based on their talents and efforts. So I’m not sure what poor sportsmanship from the stands actually accomplishes, other than making us all look bad.
It’s my hope in this season of peace and good will that we try to cheer in a way that supports the kids and coaches of both teams, and not in a way that only causes resentment and ill feelings.
Charles Rudy
Sparta, N.C.