Today, in a time span of less than six hours, I heard more curse words strung together than I ever heard before. I listened to young children say words they did not understand, and senior players belting out words that they certainly understood. While writing this I am shaking my head in frustration. There is a time and a place for bad language, but until you reach twenty-one there is not a single situation so bad that requires vehement cursing.
George Washington once stated: “the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.” Speaking to young players for a moment; when you curse you cast your immaturity into sharp relief. When you drop an F-bomb you only show your inability to speak intelligently without resorting to base insults. Yet, in these situations I do not blame the child. I blame the parents.
A few years back, when Atlanta Youth Lacrosse was still at Murphy Candler Park. I was playing against two opponents who cursed all game. The officials put them in the penalty box over and over again, but neither player seemed to understand that they should firmly shut their mouths. When the game ended, I packed my gear into my bag and walked over to my dad. I passed my two opponents and their father. He was dropping curse words left and right about how terrible the referees were. Put simply, the apples did not fall very far from the tree.
Now I only blame the parents if the child is under sixteen. If a sixteen-year-old player is cursing at or around me while at AYL. He is going to get a serious talking to. Players, there comes a time when you must step out on your own as a responsible individual. Cursing shows that your are still a child, and not worthy of additional responsibilities.
Looking back on my formative years, I cannot say there was a good reason for me to curse at another person. However, I was impulsive. I lacked the what I now call the “brain-mouth connection.” I cursed because I was frustrated at some perceived slight or the lack of fairness directed my way by a person or situation. I became proficient at stringing together imaginative combinations that left my friends’ mouths on the floor. The problem was, I did not understand the full impact of my words. I said them without a care in the world. Never realizing how foolish they made me appear.
As an adult, and role model for our youth players, I cannot afford to lose control of my mouth. So I replace my curse words with “G” rated words. Which I now give to all of our players, parents, adult fans, and coaches:
- Jimmeny Christmas!
- Darn (or Darnit)!
Feel free to add to this list, but it should provide everyone with a basic filter for curse words.
Finally, when players, coaches, and fans curse during a lacrosse game you disgrace yourselves. Worse, you disgrace the game. There is a reason why the rulebook requires a minimum 1-minute Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty for cursing starting at “damn.” At Atlanta Youth Lacrosse we do not tolerate sullying the game that we love and respect. I do not care if cursing is a family thing like the two opponents I once played against. Or if you just learned a new and shocking curse word. You do not curse on the lacrosse field. Treat it like a church and keep your mouth to yourself. If that concept does not click for you then remember what my mom used to tell me: “Gordon, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”
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