On the Tunney Side of the Street 34

by Jim Tunney

  After Further Review ... As a kid you couldn't get me off the playground until after dark. Well, there was one exception. If 6:00pm (dinner time at our house) occurred before it got dark, I had to be home. Mom was in charge. Dad was usually on my side, except went I went against "the rules." I grew up on playgrounds, fields, stadiums, and have always felt very much at home there.

Dad helped nurture my feelings of the comfortableness of fields, courts and stadiums; and through sports, taught me a lot about people and relationships. Dad was sitting in the stands at one of my high school baseball games when I happened to say a word (it was friendly) to an opposing first basemen, I lost my concentration and was "picked off" - "Out," said the umpire.

"Don't talk to your opponents during a game," my Dad scolded. "It's ok to be pleasant, friendly, and sportsmanlike, but games are not for conversation." Dad made his point. Never happened again. Which brings me to today's athletes who "trash talk" to - or at - opponents.

As a referee on the NFL field for 31 years, I heard it all too often. With my father's message ringing in my ears (it still does even today), I always tried to stop, curtail, reduce trash talking between opponents. To me, it adds NO value to the game. Yet, in today's sports world, especially at the professional level, it happens on a regular basis.

Recently watching a sports talk show, one of the panelists said, "Trash talking helps the game." The panelist went on to say that he "wished women in the WNBA would do more of it." How does it help the game? Does it make your opponent play better? If so, that's not a good thing. On the other hand, does it make an opponent play worse?

Then again, how far does one take trash talking? Are there boundaries? Racial slurs ok? Many of them start fights. Is fisticuffs part of sports? In hockey - well, don't get me started. Do you go to a game to see/hear players trash talk?

Most dictionaries describe the word "trash" as "junk," "garbage," and "litter;" or to "attack" or "criticize severely." What value does that add to any game? Further, what example does it send to Little Leaguers, high school or college players who see their "heroes (?)" trash talking?

Will (does) trash talk help or hurt the game?

To learn more about Jim Tunney, or if your organization would like to secure Jim as a speaker, please visit www.tunneysideofsports.com and click on Jim Tunney www.twitter.com/jimtunney.