By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Column: Dad, shut up


I probably watch way too many sports on television, but the way I like to look at it is there are a lot worse things I could be doing with my time.

One of the things that always seems to be on in my house on a Saturday is mixed martial arts, and a UFC pay-per-view is always a big event with a fun dinner that is something a little different than the normal menu. We recently had friends over for a UFC event, something strange for us to do, considering we have become hermits over the past few years.

A few weeks ago, we purchased the pay-per-view that included the return of fans at the VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. There was an attendance of over 16,000, and it was loud. I had become quite used to be able to hear the echo of every punch and kick, and the corners were barking out instructions that I had forgotten just how much fun it was to have fans “oohing and awing” with each big strike.

It was nice to have the fans back and brought back some wonderful memories of trips to Las Vegas to attend UFC cards. There is just something special about being in the crowd at a big event. I felt the same way when I traveled for the first time to see my beloved Gonzaga Bulldogs in an NCAA Tournament game.

The atmosphere of a live event is something I’m sure many people have missed, and it will be something many will look forward to with trips to football and basketball games, concerts, or whatever people are doing these days.

I’ll be glad to see the fans in the stands again for all sorts of sports, but one thing I will kind of miss is the things that you will hear that the crowd noise would have otherwise drowned out.

Whether it is two fighters engaging in some verbal warfare before they try to rip off each other’s heads or a coach telling his basketball team something, it was kind of fun to hear the things that you normally would not.

It reminded me of a time when I first started out covering high school sports in Wyoming. At this point in my life, I had a rough time sitting still in the office for more than a couple of hours. This is quite the opposite today, and I would much rather be behind my desk, but at this time, I was paid by the hour and would jump on any chance to be covering a game or getting windshield time.

The setup for basketball was a little different than what I cover in Three Forks, and the junior varsity games would be on a different day than the varsity team. Every once in a while, I would cover a junior varsity game to get a few hours out of the office and give some of the younger kids a little recognition in the paper.

Unless the team I was covering was playing their rivals, the crowds were usually not too big, but it was in a huge gym. You could hear everything, which made it a lot of fun, much like what you could hear this season across the board in sports.

On one occasion, I remember something I heard that sticks with me to this day and almost made me fall out of the bleachers because I was laughing so hard.

One of the better players on the team had a very aggressive father who enjoyed screaming about everything.

He yelled at officials, other players, coaches, and even his son a few times. After about two-quarters of this, the son approached his dad as he walked to the bench for a timeout. He looked straight at him, and said “Dad, would you please just shut up!”.

It was a glorious moment to see the father turn white. The man who had been so loud now had nothing to say.

This was something you could not have heard in a packed gym. I think everyone else who heard it was pretty happy that the father did not say anything else the rest of the game.

I am so excited to have fans back, but the little things you hear in a smaller crowd can be priceless.


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