By Shmuel Miskin, Matzav.com
It’s not the first summer that we’ve seen what I am going to describe, but this year it has been quite awful. I am referring, dear Matzav.com readers, to the behavior and reactions of camp staff members during and after “inter-camp” games.
For those who are unaware, it is quite common for boys’ camps in the Castkills to arrange games – mostly basketball, though baseball and other sports are played as well – amongst themselves. The idea is a nice one. The camps, often with campers from different backgrounds, get to meet each other and involve themselves in some healthy competition.
But the idea has gotten so far removed from its original design, and now the competition is so fierce that all manners and etiquette are ignored for the prestigious title of being the “best in the mountains.”
Last summer especially, and this summer in several instances, the actual counselors and head staff members of certain camps went ballistic after a referee made a call against their camp team that they thought was off the mark.
What kind of role modeling is this for the campers? Is being “the best in the mountains” in basketball for summer 2010 more important than setting an example for the campers?
I have no idea whether the ref blew the calls or not, but that isn’t the point. What is the point is that when camp staff members, whether head staff or counselors, react and respond to inter-camp games like those who attend professional sports events, and lose all control of themselves, there is something very wrong. It doesn’t reflect positively at all.
I know a parent from one camp who found out that a head staff member in the camp his child attends actually yelled at a referee after the opposing team hit a three pointer at the buzzer. (The parent told me that there is no way his son will attend the camp next summer.) I am not sure what the dispute was, but the staff member obviously didn’t think the points should have been counted. So he embarrassed the ref in front of the entire camp! Is this normal? Why do we let this go on summer after summer?
After one such altercation last summer during which there was a disputed call, the team members began shoving each other. A camper I spoke to who was present at that incident told me that he was scared, but he was more bothered by the fact that he had lost total respect for the counselors who were on the basketball team and behaved like “babies,” in his words. It would seem that they behaved worse than that. And he told me that not only did a head staff member not stop the altercation, but he got involved as well, saying that his camp team had been cheated! With role models like these…
Something must be done. I propose that we, as a community, establish an understanding that if a camp allows such conduct on their premises, it will be publicized, no matter whether they were right or wrong, no matter whether the travel was really a travel, whether the player did go off or not, and whether the basket came after the buzzer or before. This unacceptable behavior has gone too far. All in the name of winning a game and getting the title of being “the best in the mountains.” What a shame.