Clarissa Kraayenbrink – Sports Editor
I go to a lot of sporting events on campus, due in part to the fact that I work for Sports Information. But at each of these events, regardless of the sport, I find a common theme: a heavy lack of respect for the referees and the players of the other team.
Before I go on, I need to tell you that I am a huge sports fan. I’ve spent my fair share of time yelling at the TV while watching the Minnesota Vikings – just ask my roommates. So I know as well as anyone else that getting worked up is all a part of the game.
Sometimes, participants in the student section will scour social media for fun facts about the opponents. They’ll dig up the name of their significant other and chant it before a free throw. This is harmless fun that probably doesn’t affect the outcome of the shot. By saying the name of the shooter’s boyfriend or girlfriend, the students are not insulting or defaming or being rude to anyone.
But some of the student involvement, I believe, goes too far.
For example, I was at an event last week where some members of the student section were verbally bombarding a player on the other team. They were hurling insults about his (perceived) lack of playing ability, height, speed—anything, really.
At most events I’ve been to, the crowd gets pretty rowdy if the ref makes a bad call against Dordt. Getting excited at the ref is expected at sporting events, but there is a definite line as to what is and what isn’t OK. If you must get mad at the ref for a bad call, get mad at the call or at the ref for making that particular call, but nothing else. There is really no need whatsoever to defame the character of the ref or his family or to bring anyone else into this situation for that matter.
As a Christian college turning out citizens of the Kingdom, I urge you, fellow Defenders, to speak with more love and grace. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV). Dordt is known as and highly regarded in the larger region as a Christian community and we need to uphold that reputation in athletics as well.
Most of our sports uniforms showcase the Dordt logo, which contains a cross. When athletes don these uniforms (and when non-athletes walk around in everyday Dordt apparel), they represent Dordt College and everything it stands for. So, how do we want to witness to those watching us? Do we want to send the message that we don’t care who we insult as long as we get the call in our favor? Or do we want to take care to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)?
Editor’s note: I would like this article to spark a conversation. If you have differing thoughts or would like to just share your thoughts on the topic, please do. Feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.