Why is it difficult for spectators to behave at sporting events?
That’s a rhetorical question — we all know the answer: People feel entitled to act a fool after purchasing a ticket for an event.
During the first round of the NBA Playoffs, we routinely witnessed this entitlement. A fan dumped popcorn on an injured player leaving the court; another spat on a player inbounding the ball; one ran onto the floor to smack the backboard; and some hurled hateful and racist remarks toward parents of a player.
If you pay to attend a pro event, boo or cheer to your heart’s content, rib a player for a gaff, and celebrate when your squad wins.
But ignorance and disparaging remarks won’t be tolerated, especially at the high school level.
On June 5, Harrison High School girls soccer player Tyara Vazquez nailed a spectacular direct kick in the first half to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. She scored again in the final seconds of the second half to break a tie and give Harrison the win.
After the contest against James Irwin, I waited for the team outside their locker room and could hear them showering Vazquez with praise after her game-winning goal.
Players exited and while they wore smiles, a statement from one player hit like a punch to the gut.
“That’s what they get for calling us [racial slur],” one player said.
I double-checked with her and other players to confirm they heard this during the game from opposing fans.
I’m not surprised. But no one, let alone a high school athlete, deserves that foolishness. Those remarks (coming from adults) illustrate the distance we still must travel regarding racial equity in this country.
It’s 2021 and high schoolers still face the racial vitriol my parents battled in the 1960s and '70s.
Southeast Colorado Springs is a melting pot of cultures and people. Let’s do better and show respect for our athletes.
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