Letter: Winning by any means not actually a win

An open letter to Superintendent Cheryl Cook, Principal Brad Marcotte, and coaches of Lyndon:

When I moved to Kansas in 2009 I was very happy with the decision. I was excited to come to the Heartland after a Navy career that kept me and my family in big cities. My greatest hope was to raise my boys among the “strong values” that I had heard the Heartland shared with where I was raised in the hill country of central Texas. As a child athlete myself, I feel that a lot of the who I am was forged in my sports years, and influenced heavily by not just my parents but my coaches as well. Honor, integrity, perseverance, and working hard were all concepts I believe were strongly affected by my sports years.

From early on, I was rather frustrated with how sports are treated in this area. While I clearly recognize the importance in the formation of well-rounded men and women, the emphasis placed on sports performance seems markedly unbalanced, with athletes who perform poorly in an academic capacity still allowed to play (in the 60 percent range). I’ve long thought this a very bad message to send.

More recently, I’ve become even more frustrated, disgusted even, over sportsmanship issues. On Dec. 2, 2016, I watched the entirety of the events between Lyndon and MdCV. What was transpiring there is the reason I write this letter, as I feel someone needs to say something about it. To start with, a far outmatched MdCV JV team got to play the Lyndon Varsity team for 3 of 4 quarters even with a blowout score. In the final quarter, the Lyndon JV team got to take the court, and still handily outscored MdCV.

In between was the girl’s Varsity game, which I’ll come back to.

Then was the Varsity vs. Varsity game. In it, I observed:

  1. A heckle line of students shouting, jeering, cheering, chanting right beside the court. Clearly directed to be there, and a Lyndon staff member was right next to them frequently.
  2. Full court press from minute 1.
  3. Lyndon players screaming “ball” 4 inches from another player’s ear.
  4. Lyndon players sticking hands directly in the face of opposing player (also while screaming ball quickly.)
  5. 20 points up, screaming in the face of opponents after a basket (followed shortly thereafter by a technical foul.)
  6. 40 points up, entire home stands erupting after a 3-pointer.

Sportsmanship is defined as: fair play, respect for opponents, and gracious behavior in winning or losing. Digging a little further, gracious is defined as: marked by kindness and courtesy, tact and delicacy. I’m curious which of the above examples the Lyndon administration and athletics staff believe constitutes anything resembling these concepts.

Back to the girl’s game. Anyone notice anything different? Once again, Lyndon outperformed MdCV although it was a much closer competition. No heckle line, no in your face tactics, just good basketball. So the question is why don’t we treat our Varsity girls like our boys? If the first thing that popped into your head about my list is that none of those tactics is illegal or against the rules, you might be part of the problem. I’m not even advocating that any of it BE illegal. We shouldn’t need mercy rules or an extra list of things you’re not allowed to do in order to dictate being a good sport. It should be readily apparent, and a good team will display it. Instead, we’ve gone from not kicking a man when he’s down to kicking, spitting, and then laughing about it.

As a Lyndon athlete father, and a Lyndon and Osage County resident I’m ashamed at the behavior displayed by our team, and frankly the fans as well. With a son coming up through the program, I am not excited about having to undo the petty tactic encouragement that is occurring.

People frequently bemoan the seeming moral slide our country is going through. Often, we blame the cities and people who espouse moral relativism. I see it as far more than that. It’s all the little things that we let go by, that we don’t stand up against and say “That is WRONG!” Our children are actively being encouraged to be poor sports, and the overwhelming response appears to be “but we’re winning!!”

Frankly, I’d rather have a son that knows how to control himself, have good sportsmanship, and lose well and keep trying; than a supposed winner that resorts to petty tactics. I’m sure I’ll be called a poor loser simply for writing this (I have sons on the MdCV team as well). I’ll say right off the bat the Lyndon boys basketball teams are far and away more talented, in better shape, and more competitive in general than the MdCV teams. That’s perhaps the most frustrating part. None of these tactics made a difference in the outcome, not that it would be any better if it did. Lyndon has a LOT of talent and drive, and instead they cheapen their win with these disgusting tactics. It makes all of those championships on the wall look that much more shallow.

If you’ve made it this far, Lyndon Admin, I ask that you reconsider the way we are training our boys, and instead focus on making them better men. Men that know that winning by any means might not actually be a win at all. History is full of passionate, talented people led astray by failing to restrain themselves when they have the upper hand.

Jon Weber

10 Responses to Letter: Winning by any means not actually a win

  1. Angry Lyndon Mom says:

    Having one son who was at Lyndon for 7th-12th grade sports and a second son at Lyndon longer, also myself being a former middle school and high school student athlete, I in many ways agree, in my opinion being a student athlete, coach, asst coach, trainer or team manager is not supposed to be always all about the win. Please don’t get me wrong the win is awesome for the winning team but school athletics is about helping teach our kids how to deal with the WINS AND LOSSES in life.

    My older son loved Lyndon School sports, and my youngest son decided to try to share in that love but was told he shouldn’t waist everyone’s time by being part of the Lyndon High basketball team “Because you didn’t play in middle school and the coach dose not have the time to teach you the game!” It is my understanding that as the coach their JOB is to TEACH THE KIDS THE GAME! am I wrong?

  2. Lyndon student says:

    that group of students is called a student section just fellow student showing support

    • Jonathan N Weber says:

      Interesting how said "support" only occurred when the opposite team had the ball, and including random noise making, but when Lyndon had the ball the section was effectively silent. Also interesting how it occurred within inches of the court, instead of from the stands. No, I don't buy that at all. It was part of the defensive strategy of the team, whether the "student section" was aware of that. Again… not "illegal" – but clearly not relative to Lyndon's skills and ability at the game of basketball.

  3. Lyndon student says:

    we have always been taught good sportsmanship at Lyndon and if we disrespect the other players we would get benched… maybe we have different point of views on sportsmanship

  4. Shawn Fund says:

    Lyndon's kids are well coached and work hard! This guy is out of touch with reality.

  5. Grandpa of players on both teams says:

    I attended the game and have to agree with Mr.Webers assessment. Lyndon has a very talented group of young players. Cheering them as they work hard to achieve their goals is fine. The jeering from staff,students,and parents that formed a line at the court was excessive. I certainly don’t see Mr Weber as a week minded easily offended individual. See the truth in this is the message we send to the future our young. Perhaps weaker is a closed and narrow minded individual whom is obviously offended by free speech. God bless America. My Grandsons on both teams will no doubt surpass us.

  6. Kube Feuerborn says:

    To this..there is SO very much I’d like to say.

    Our kids work VERY hard, and the support from the community for these kids is SECOND TO NONE. I’m very proud to be a part of this athletic community.

    I have 2 boys who play ball for Lyndon and they have nothing but admiration and respect for the coaching staff, cheering sections and fans.

    I actually applauded several times when one of our former students on the Melvern team did well.

    One of my boys, who plays Varsity, was disrespected by his Melvern opponent, and taunted, the entire game. What did my son do? He let his game speak for himself and not run his mouth back. He didn’t feel the the need to get offended by it. Even after the kid said to him, “we didn’t think Lyndon was going to be a problem for us”. I’m very proud of my son.

    When my other son, who doesn’t normally play varsity, entered the court and sunk a 3 in the last quarter, your dang right we erupted! It’s not because we are taunting, it’s because he works hard and everyone knows it and it was a feel good moment to see him perform so well. It’s not always about you. It’s about our players. Weather down by 20 or up by 40, we will cheer and encourage our boys to the end. I’m proud of that.

    Don’t talk about our boys and their tactics on the court, unless you recognize what happened from the Melvern side on the court as well.

    This letter is an attack on these hard working boys and the town as a whole. As the kids say now days, “don’t hate”. What would YOU have the kids do? Sit and quietly give silent golf claps when someone scores? Cheer for the other team, because they are down by 30?

    And I will also add, that people like you are the problem with society today. Getting offended by stupid stuff like this is exactly why so many today have no spine or backbone. Focus on bigger issues. This community knows exactly what we are and what we are made of and this letter will not change that, only make us defend ourselves. Give me a break.

    Forever and always, winning or losing, Go Tigers!

    • Jonathan N Weber says:

      Kube, you did not address any of the things I mentioned with the exception of the 3 pointer while 40 points up. I take it that all of it is acceptable to you then? Or is this a "but they do it to"? Do you accept that from your boys?

      It's great to get excited when your kid is doing well. It's entirely another to see a team that is being thoroughly defeated, and pile it on more. If you don't recognize the thrust of what I am seeing, and only reading "offended" language, you need to re-read, or just recognize you are too entwined in the pride of Lyndon to actually understand what I'm saying.

      I also find it very hard to swallow that any player would be taunting another (particularly Jamie) while 20+ points down, which is where the MdCV team was from about 5 minutes into the game. The MdCV team knew they were going to be decimated by Lyndon.

      This is not an attack on the town. This is a plea for sportsmanship, not a win at all costs, and no tactic is beneath us style that Lyndon is demonstrating. Lyndon has amazing talent – not only do they not need it, they're better than that, YOUR sons in particular.

      And I love the "no spine or backbone" comment – about what I figured would be the response from people like you. The whole point is that we should respect everyone, and NOT simply turn on them and stab until they stop moving. I see you're on board with the opposite.

      • Kube Feuerborn says:

        I responded because my son is the one who hit the big bad three pointer heard round the world evidently. He plays JV, he was put in and scored. We can cheer for that, its what people do.
        The long and short of it is, I disagree with your list above. I don't accept unsportsmanlike conduct and I do not agree that we stab til they stop moving. I think that your observation is a little blown out of proportion. I don't agree that is what happened and I will stand up and say so.
        The list you have, in my experience anyway, are nothing short of defensive moves. We full court press, and your team full court pressed as well. Massey took the Varsity out of the game in the 3rd, and the JV still scored. Aren't they supposed to? Massey is not a coach that runs up the score or tolerates disrespect. He's one of the most respected individuals that I know. He doesn't tolerate any of that. Marcotte works hard to show the kids the line between cheering and disrespect. Every town has a cheer section, in fact, one of the most impressive ones I've ever seen was in MdCV when we lost in sub-state years ago. Then entire town was the cheering section cheering things like "you cant do that" and such. Big deal. It's part of the excitement.
        I found it shocking that the kid would smack talk my kid after we dropped 20 on him, as well. But it happened. Right in front of me.
        I just disagree with you. We see the same game through different eyes I guess. A plea for sportsmanship is wonderful, however, I don't see where there is unsportsmanlike conduct anywhere.

        BTW, the technical was because someone forgot to check in the game, not because of any misconduct.

        Please stop calling my kids out. You have great kids, as do I. I wouldn't do that to you or them. Thank you.

        • Jonathan N Weber says:

          Kube, you really need to cool down, step back, and re-read without being so defensive. I didn't call your kids out for anything, unless you consider them being talented young men to be a "call out". You're clearly not understanding what I'm saying. I'm not expecting anyone from Lyndon to agree with me, particularly parents of team members.

          As to "not running the score up", I'm interested to know how 66 to 18 isn't an example of such.

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