Raptors fans, soccer celebrations put sportsmanship under scrutiny
Published Wednesday, June 12, 2019 3:01PM EDT
Disrespect was front and centre this week in the sports world after basketball fans mocked a star player’s injury and a soccer team showily celebrated goal after goal -- after goal.
Much of the reaction raised concerns of sportsmanship both on and off the field of play.
At the NBA Finals, Toronto Raptors fans jeered at Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, who suffered an Achilles injury in Game 5 on Monday. At the Women’s World Cup, the U.S. team thrashed first-timers Thailand 13-0 on Tuesday and celebrated each goal no less fervently than the one before.
Depending on who you ask, the behaviour is either excusable or reprehensible.
“I think it’s totally fine,” said Samantha Kemp-Jackson, host of the Parenting Then and Now podcast, on CTV News Channel. “Let’s face it, these women are at the World Cup. It’s probably the culmination of their sports career.”
The World Cup match was enough to make relatively inactive Twitter user Peyvand Mossavat, the head coach of soccer programs at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, sound off online. He called the “excessive” celebration a “disgraceful display of behaviour.”
“At the world stage, to do this is unacceptable,” he said in an interview with CTVNews.ca. “You should feel bad about celebrating it in your opponent’s face.”
After the Raptors game, some came to the defence of fans, claiming they were celebrating the possession turnover, or that it was human nature to cheer the downfall of an opponent. For Toronto Star sports writer Morgan Campbell, it was apparent that the cheers and jeers were toward Durant.
“This was not about a turnover, this was about celebrating a serious injury to the other team’s best player,” he told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.
“There’s a distinction -- it’s not fuzzy, I think it’s pretty clear -- between normal gamesmanship you can expect from dedicated fans and vulgar behaviour,” he added. When Morgan used to report on soccer, he saw fans of other countries clang pots and pans outside Canadian teams’ hotels, the type of behavour he said amounts to “normal gamesmanship.”
But reports of Toronto fans swearing at Steph Curry’s family members and “sucker punching” Golden State Warriors fans in Toronto make it clear: “We cannot hold up Raptors fans as fans that are better and more righteous in the sports world,” he said.
While the expectations of decorum may seem different for player and fan, both the World Cup and NBA Finals incidents raised the question of team leadership for soccer coach Mossavat.
“The moment [Durant] was being carried off, what happened? The leadership on the Toronto Raptors team put their hands up in the air and told everybody to be quiet,” he said, referring to players Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka who were seen comforting Durant and attempting to calm fans.
“That’s leadership,” he said. “The U.S. women’s team needed [Megan] Rapinoe, the coach, to say ‘Hey, calm this down.’ To give these young ladies on the pitch some perspective on where they are, where they’re playing. Let’s show some class.”