Shame tourney turned ugly

Published 10:47 pm Friday, January 15, 2010

One week ago, this column was about the virtues of the county basketball tournament and how I was looking forward to it.

This time, regrettably, we’ll focus on what went wrong with the tournament.

The event took an ugly turn on Monday, the first day of the tournament, when a skirmish broke out during the Thorsby-Verbena boys game. I call it a skirmish instead of a fight because I’m not sure a punch was thrown, much less landed.

But one player from each team was ejected from the game—and earned a nice little fine from the Alabama High School Athletics Association to go along with it.

The game was emotionally charged before the incident and continued that way even after the officials and the coaches tried to calm things down.

This isn’t about blaming anyone, but the players should understand that events like this are a reflection on our county. I don’t know if there were many, or any, out-of-towners at the gym that night, but, if so, I’m sure they got the wrong impression of Chilton County.

Perhaps even more disappointing was that the tension between the two schools spilled over into comments posted below the story on our Web site.

Eventually, we had to disable comments on the story because users began identifying players by their numbers. We won’t allow people, especially minors, to be attacked on our site, and it’s a shame we even have to worry about such a situation.

Parents and fans—you know, the adults—of these two respectable schools had a fine opportunity to teach some students how not to behave. No doubt many did so, but a minority instead joined in the fight.

Acting out in a moment of emotion, like the players did, is bad but easily forgivable. Acting like a school-age child, when you have someone of that very age looking up to you, is disturbing behavior.

Hundreds of people representing six different schools have watched the basketball games, and any time that many people get together, something will surely go wrong.

But how we react to difficult situations is what defines us.