We all need to examine our behavior at athletic events

Jim Vallet, for the Fernley Reporter

When the Fernley boys soccer team hosted Dayton on Oct. 26, there was some unnecessary drama during and after the game. One of the two referees ejected two Dayton supporters for comments they were making during the first half, but these “fans” were slow to leave the field area. Possibly these obstreperous individuals believed that the 150 or so people in attendance had come to see them act like fools, rather than to watch a high school soccer game. 

Before the game, I watched Paul Sullivan, Fernley assistant principal and athletic director, and Melissa Burke, an elementary school teacher in Fernley, picking up trash from the home side of the bleachers at the soccer field. Burke also ran the scoreboard during the game. When the referee decided to eject the two spectators (whatever their offenses were) and the spectators decided either not to go or to use their “15 minutes of fame” to prove what kind of people they are, Sullivan was forced to act. Of course, these two decided not to take responsibility for their actions, but to verbally attack Sullivan. After the game, one of the two ejected spectators demanded to re-enter the field area, in order to “pick up my kid”, who appeared to me to be perfectly capable of walking the couple of hundred feet to the parking lot. When Sullivan attempted to block her entrance without actually touching her, this “lady” became much louder and abusive. Several brave Dayton supporters also threw in their two cents, causing an ugly parking lot scene that I have witnessed far too many times in many different places.

We all need to examine our behavior at athletic events. Normally, the purpose of high school sports is not to win, not for your “kid” to get an athletic scholarship, and not for parents to live out their athletic lives vicariously through their sons and daughters. The main purpose of high school activities is for student participation, because we know kids do better when they are active. Nationwide, participation in high school sports is down…could that fact be related to how often ugly scenes like this one occur?


Sullivan’s actions that day are to be commended, and it is people like Mr. Paul Sullivan and Ms. Melissa Burke who make it possible for your children to participate. No matter which team you cheer for, venting your anger at a person who puts in many unseen and uncredited hours of work so that your child has the possibility of improving himself should be out of bounds. 

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