- Cullman, Alabama

January 5, 2014

Ringing in the New Year

By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Well, the ball has dropped and the bells have rung, it’s officially 2014, and I can hardly believe how fast the past year flew by!

What with all the last minute rush for the holidays and New Year’s being so close to Christmas, I’m still reeling from decorating, cooking and tearing down what I’d just put up.

I hope all of you have gotten a good, fresh start to 2014, and that you’ve survived the Iron Bowl, Rose Bowl and the championship games, and that your team did you proud.

It’s been nice to note that most of the people I’ve talked to this week are complimentary and gracious about Auburn’s win over Alabama, and wished them well in Pasadena.

That sense of sportsmanship has been sadly lacking in some arenas, all the way from T-ball to professional ice hockey for the last few decades. I think that it’s about time for people to instill that sense of fair play and good sportsman-like conduct in their children, and the only way to do that is by setting the right example.

Sure, it’s nice to win, but there can only be one winner. However, the loser who accepts defeat, and the winner who does not gloat have far outweighed the poor sportsman-like attitude of winners who boast and the sore losers who sling mud and cause fights to break out among fans and bystanders.

There might not be any little children standing beside you, or sitting near you at a game when you hurl offensive language at the players, but you can bet that with video cameras, cell phones and television cameras panning the crowd, you can be seen and heard by a lot of impressionable youngsters who are watching at home.

I’ve heard some horror stories in years past from cars getting keyed to blows being swapped, people going to jail and to the hospital over the score of a game.

And it is a game, people…

Yes, it’s fun to get wrapped up in the excitement of the minute, but it takes a much bigger man (and I’m not talking about stature) to concede a game graciously than it does to yell obscenities and cause a big scene. Not to mention that it’s dangerous to bystanders who might just be trying to get to the parking lot!

So think before you speak in anger. Take defeat with the proper attitude, and offer congratulations to the winners and their fans. It makes a much better impression than the opposite behavior, and it will be remembered in a favorable light, not as a bad reflection on your team.

And winners can always be proud without being overbearing. Good manners on and off the field are always appropriate.

Come on, y’all, we are Southerners…didn’t we write the manual on good manners and graciousness?

Let’s be sure to think before we speak about sports or anything else, this year.

Politics is another arena where some people go overboard with slinging mud, and I, for one, have had just about all I want to hear of it. I don’t know about you, but for me, this has been one of the worst examples of political rivalry and prejudicial venom from both parties that I’ve ever witnessed. I just want to see the last of both of them. Maybe we’ll get some new faces and new attitudes in the coming year. Maybe common sense will prevail and some of the candidates of upcoming elections will take note of how wrong all this has been. I’ve never seen so many hate-filled, rumor mongering emails in my life. If you are sending me any of them, please stop!

I’m not very political, myself, but I do know when something sounds just too “off the wall” to be true, and I do know how to research and find out if what I’m reading is a product of someone’s propaganda or the truth, and so should everyone. Don’t keep hitting “send” on those emails that continue to bash the opposing party unless you can prove for a fact that what you are helping to spread is, in fact, the truth.

If we can teach ourselves to think before speaking or acting, if we can re-learn the golden rule, “do unto others”, then this year will be a good one to have lived in, laughed in, played in and loved in.

Here’s to 2014, a new attitude and a new aptitude for living together!