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Sportsmanship is the most important lesson of athletic competition | READER COMMENTARY

Manchester Valley's Justin Greenwell tries to force Watkins Mill's Daniel Cruz into a turnover during a boys lacrosse playoff game at Manchester Valley High School on Wednesday, May 8. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times).

Your recent editorial (”Racial slurs on sports field need prompt, swift, strong consequences,” May 14) was emphatic and right on point. However, I think a few important factors were overlooked.

The primary mission of any schoolteacher is to teach, and the primary mission of athletic participation is to teach via coaching. Coaching muscle motor mechanics of specific sports, sportsmanship and how to participate in team activities.

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Good sportsmanship is probably the most important factor a good coach can pass on to his or her athletes. It is considered essential at many levels in life, everything from a friendly game of neighborhood softball to negotiating a major contract. The practices of “winning at all costs” and “trash-talking” on the sports field seem counter to this very important element of school athletics.

The use of the “N-word,” as the editorial points out, should not be tolerated at any point nor in any context in school athletics. Use of the N-word on the school athletic field must be seen as lack of good sportsmanship, disrespect of a fellow player and very poor coaching. The consequences should be harsh. For example, benching the offending player for the rest of the game and the rest of the season if the offense is repeated; forfeiture of the game if more than one player is involved or forfeiture of the season if it occurs in more than one game. And all of these penalties should be made clear to coaches and players at the beginning of each season. All student players should recognize they may be risking college admission and scholarships if they persist in use of the word. Punishment should be immediate and never rescinded.

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Sarah A. Riley, Timonium

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