BROOKINGS, SD (KELO) — High school student-athletes attending the South Dakota high school football championships in Brookings say role models in the NFL have to set a much better example, following the high-profile brawl during the Browns-Steelers game.
One student couldn’t even bear to watch the fight unfold.
High school football is a bedrock of good sportsmanship where teams put a premium on playing by the rules.
“If you don’t have good sportsmanship, your coach may not like it, your teammates may not like it, so I think it’s important,” Garretson football player Austin Top said.
Student-athletes take notice when the professional players they look up to disregard the rules.
“My phone was blowing-up with this giant brawl and I was watching it and I kept seeing him hitting him with the helmet and I had to look away. I was appalled, it was just unreal,” Pierre senior Phil Adam said.
Student athletes we spoke to say violent outbursts by NFL players may encourage bad behavior by younger athletes.
“It does hurt the game because little kids are going to look at it and be like well, this is like WWE wrestling. You can’t do that,” Garretson football player Dustin Haas said.
Student athletes say the NFL brawl can be a teaching moment on how to up their game when it comes to on-field behavior.
“It shows us football players what it’s like to have good sportsmanship. He did not have good sportsmanship and that just kind of brings it back on us,” Haas said.
Sportsmanship extends beyond the gridiron. The South Dakota High School Activities Association Code of Ethics states that students will treat others with courtesy and consideration.