By Ryan Divish
Let's be real honest here. When you give out a nickel's worth of advice, you don't usually expect to get change back.
Too deep? It means that people didn't get it. It flew right past them like good taste did to Paris Hilton, or the concept of being a teammate did to Terrell Owens.
I thought I put it in the simplest of terms. Need I repeat myself?
In every situation in life, not just sports, but every situation in life: "Don't be that guy."
It shouldn't be a request, rather a matter of principle.
Still, people trampled on that principle like a group of stampeding linemen at last Saturday's high school quarterfinal game against Stevensville.
Really, I don't want to sit here and chastise and criticize people, but I was there. I saw plenty of things to be disappointed with and heard about even more. Plus, I have a semi-weekly column, and you don't. So don't read it if you don't like it.
First things first, I am not choosing sides on who did what, who said what or who called who a bad name. In this situation, everybody's wrong, nobody's right.
I realize that football, particularly playoff football, brings out a different level of intensity and passion in both the players and the fans. But intensity shouldn't be confused with anger, and passion shouldn't be mistaken for rage.
That being said, playoff football doesn't give you the right to make a jackass out of yourself. You may ask, "Was it that bad?"
Well, for Havre High Athletics Director Dennis Murphy to tell me in our weekly phone call on Monday that there would be additional security at the game because of problems in the Stevensville game - that's beyond bad, that's awful.
Extra security at a football game? This isn't a heavy metal concert or a political protest. I knew there were some upset people in the stands, but a need for extra security? Then stories and rumors starting circulating around town. Obviously rumors need to be taken with a grain of salt, but most rumors still contain a few grains of truth as well.
Don't be annoyed with Murphy. It's easy to say that administrators are overreacting. Even though he really isn't. One of his many responsibilities is to make sure that all Havre High sporting events follow a code of conduct for the safety of fans and participants.
"It's about providing a safe environment for everyone, whether you are a player or fan," he said.
The first three HHS guidelines in their simplest terms are: Don't swear at anybody playing, officiating or watching the game. Don't pick on, taunt or tease specific opposing players or coaches. Don't go anywhere near the playing field to yell, talk or argue with an official or player.
It seems simple enough really. They're basically the same rules of human conduct you learn in kindergarten: Don't cuss, don't tease, don't argue.
But there must be something about watching our kids, our friends and our team compete that sets us back to a prekindergarten age with a mouth like a 55-year old sailor.
Let's start with the referees. I used to say that I've never met a referee I would let drive my car, cut my hair or give me an eye exam. Still, I have umped baseball for the last three summers and like officiating any sport, it's not easy. No matter what you think, most officials are trying their best and don't have an agenda. There is no conspiracy to keep your team down.
Still, officials have reached the point where they seem to be above criticism. In this column, nobody is above criticism.
As for the officiating in that game, I'll say it, since neither of the coaches can - it was poor-to-below average and maddeningly inconsistent. There was a fair amount of trash talking and rough play, beginning in the first quarter. But the referees did not take control of the situation. What they needed to do was throw unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on both teams early and often to set the tone.
Instead, they let things go and it got completely out of hand. You know how high school kids are, give them an inch, they take 85 yards.
But, no matter how bad the officiating is, there is no reason to sprinkle your disapproval with f-bombs and any other word commonly used on "The Sopranos."
There may be 60 kids playing on the field, but there are about 600 in the stands. What does that tell them if a player's parent is telling the ref to remove certain parts of his body from other parts of his body while using four letter adjectives?
Look, I'm not going to sit here and lie. My mouth has been know to drop a few curse words every now and then. But, how I talk while having a beer at the Palace Bar is far different than how I talk when I'm on the sidelines covering a game.
If you are unhappy with a call, try and be a little creative. Using a bunch of cuss words just means you're not smart enough to come up with anything better. Or maybe you just go old school and boo.
Most of all, you certainly shouldn't be directing your remarks or profanity laced comments to the other team's players - no matter how dirty they appear to be playing.
Remember for a moment that these are 17- and 18-year-old kids we're talking about. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and make bad decisions.
Don't believe me?
Why don't you go take a look at some of the clothes and hair styles you sported in high school. That's just the start of bad decisions you made in those days.
There were a few Stevensville players taking cheap shots. I've seen the tape. But there were a few questionable hits from Havre too. And both teams did more trash talking than an entire episode of "Street Ball, the And 1 Mixed Tape Tour."
However, taunting and tormenting the players from the stands, only makes that chip on their shoulders grow a little bit larger.
As for going onto the field or near even by to accost a player or referee, what good does it do?
Honestly, it only turns you into "that guy." You know, the one that Jay Leno mocks on "The Tonight Show" when an article is written about a fan or a parent going overboard and attacking someone at a youth sports event.
Is that how you want you want people to remember the 2004 Class A quarterfinal? It wasn't that Havre won, or Gary Wagner threw for four TDs, instead, it's some idiot tried to fight a ref after the game.
You know we're not talking about long division here, people. They're the simplest of rules and guidelines. They're the same aspects of sportsmanship that we hope our kids learn by playing and competing in sports.
I am not pointing fingers at any one person in this situation. I don't have names. I don't have places. I only have heard of instances.
Still, if you think about it. It still makes us all guilty if we let it continue. It has to stop now. Bad reputations are easy to earn and hard to dispel.
Really, all it takes is one person or one bad episode to give Havre and its fans that type of reputation.
So, Saturday, if your blood is boiling over a bad call; if your hair is on fire because of a cheap play by an opposing player; if you could just scream out obscenities that can be heard in Chinook - stop for a second; look around and ask yourself this question:
Am I being, "that guy?"