…Good sports are winners no matter the score

Reports of poor sportsmanship up in Red Lake dampened an otherwise remarkable victory for the Pelican Rapids boys basketball team.

Pelican won the first-round playoff game March 9 on a three-point shot by Ian Fahje—with under two seconds remaining on the clock. 

Final score, 64-63. 

Based on accounts filtering back to us, Red Lake fans, at least some, were not happy. Due to concerns over a few  “poor sports” in the crowd—the Pelican team was escorted off the court, and out of town, by law enforcement. 

There were a few additional reports of poor sportsmanship—mostly hearsay and secondhand—so we’ll leave those alone. 

No doubt, it was an example of just a handful of hyper-engaged fans—not indicitive of the vast majority, who were welcoming and friendly, according to many of the Pelican contingent.  Red Lake has a proud basketball tradition, and families are very invested in the  game and its role in lifting their community.

But, let’s commend Pelican Rapids athletes and coaches.  

I don’t believe we’ve ever encountered a substantial report of poor sportsmanship directed at Pelican athletes and coaches. 

Quite the opposite. 

We’ve even published unsolicited letters to the editor in the Press over the years praising the conduct of Pelican teams, coaches—and fans. Not to mention—enumerable verbal compliments and passing comments on Pelican sportsmanship. 

Though the winter sports season is over for Pelican, this is a good time for a reminder of the Minnesota State High School League’s positions on etiquette on and off the court:

“Good sportsmanship is the result of a disciplined effort to respect yourself, your opponents, and contest officials. Remember, good sports are winners no matter the score.”

We also reprint these passages from the High School League website:

“The post-game handshakes and high-fives. Cheerleaders and super fans leading positive cheers. Runners helping an injured opponent cross the finish line…All are awesome acts of sportsmanship that deserve to be applauded. And, it’s what we want to see at every high school competitive event—athletics, music, drama, speech, debate, robotics, and visual arts.”

No need to dwell on the Pelican Rapids-Red Lake game  March 9.

There’s always next season…

Ideally, athletes, players, and fans learn from incidents like this—and move forward toward a positive long-range outcome.