Beyond The Brawl: Future Athletes Say Good Sportsmanship Essential - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/22/04-Tyler

Beyond The Brawl: Future Athletes Say Good Sportsmanship Essential

It's been the topic of conversation through the weekend -- the ugly brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons Friday night.

Monday, as East Texas schoolkids hit the court for their basketball practices, the practice of good sportsmanship and self-restraint is on everyone's minds.

Tyler's Moore Middle School player Jacob Yanker: "They think it's all right to hurt people, and it's not. It's never all right to take physical contact to someone else. There's no excuse for it."

What happened was shocking. A superstar scuffle turning into a free-for-all, with some innocent fans getting attacked. Players at school concentrate on the battle on the court... and that's where they say everything stops.

Player Blair Oliver: "Why are these guys fighting when they're making millions of dollars? And if they get into a fight, it's not going to do anything but mess their career up."

Player Chase Wiley: "Some [kids] are going to think 'He's doing it. Why don't I do it? They're setting a bad example."

These kids say from the day they picked up a ball, their parents and coaches have set the right example -- that in fighting over a game, no one wins.

Oliver: "When you're in a position where you're a top athlete, and people are trying to mess you up, it's important for you to have a lot of self control to keep that from happening."

Coaches say they won't tolerate fighting or even tough talking. Randy Fleet says if his kids try to start something, it'll be the end to their playing days.

"We hope it teaches them how not to act. What we try to teach our kids is that people are going to say things to them and do things to them -- bad things to make them angry, and we try to teach them how not to act," he says. 

Even these kids can put on a show, but for them it stays in the game, so they can stay on the court.

Some of the middle school players didn't hestitate to tell us that if they were involved in a fight, they would not just get booted off the team, but get swats. And they say this could be a good example to use of what's right and what's wrong, even for younger kids.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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