I don't know what happened at that now-infamous modified girls lacrosse game between Clarence and Sweet Home, the one that has earned attention for one of the worst reasons possible.
Apparently there may have been racially-tinged words exchanged between the teams, an incident just about as head-shaking as the Kenmore East girls basketball teams' misguided use of a slur in their pregame chant this past season.
What I do know is that these incidents have been hugely disappointing, and not just for the obvious reasons. It's because high school sports are one of the very best ways that young people can come together, one of the best educational vehicles that can lead away from that kind of small-minded name-calling, not just as a teenager but for a person's entire life.
Not once in more than 12 years of running around to games all over Western New York have I seen or heard players engage in the kind of altercation that may have occurred between Clarence and Sweet Home. I've only witnessed only one incident involving fans' use of a slur, one in which a player taunted visiting fans after a win, prompting one to make the poorest choice of words.
I've covered city games, suburban games and rural games. I've covered every combination of a fish out of water, demographically speaking, whether it be the smallest of districts visiting inner-city Buffalo or city teams playing after an hour-minute bus ride into the country.
With just that one exception, I've seen games end the way they are supposed to -- with a handshake in the middle of the arena in which the two teams just competed.
One of the reasons that I think the Section VI boys basketball tournament is one of the very best events in Western New York high school sports is that Buffalo State Sports Arena annually becomes something of a melting pot inside a snow globe.
Every year, shake it up in the final week of February and you have an entire week of different-looking teams, from different corners of Western New York, playing in front of fans from just about every demographic -- and nobody cares about any of that. It's all about basketball and great competition.
I sit there at the scorers table for about a week and have a front-row seat to the handshake line after each game. No matter the outcome, all those different teams from different places embrace. Every year, I see scenes that are veritable public service announcements for how athletics bring people together.
Things obviously went awry in the examples listed above. Not to be too simplistic, but the only thing that can be done is to use them as lessons in the future.
The tone has to be set by coaches at the youngest levels, like modified. They need to tell their players that if they're not used to working with or competing against someone who looks different from them, its time to get used to it without making an issue out of what is a nonissue.
Make it part of the preseason meeting (perhaps the same one in which parents are told to not be obnoxious during games): There's no place for insults to the opponent of any kind, especially the most disgusting of trash talk. Also, coaches need to be involved with their teams to the point at which they are aware of pregame chants that have the wrong word in them.
Those are the very few examples of where school sports have gone wrong.
For some of the best examples of young people competing with and against each other, about how high school sports are such an excellent vehicle for positive experiences, just head over to any local high school field or gym.
Hundreds of them happen every day.
> Football schedule released
It's going to be one very busy Friday when the 2012 high school football season kicks off this Aug. 31.
There are 30 games on Aug. 31, according to the Section VI schedule released on Tuesday. There are only seven games on Saturday, Sept. 1. There are two on Sunday, Sept. 2 as Clarence takes on Section III power West Genesee and Riverside meets another Syracuse-area team in Auburn as part of the Carrier Classic in Syracuse's Carrier Dome.
Among Friday's many highlights is a matchup we reported earlier this year -- Bishop Timon-St. Jude travels to Williamsville South in a rare, but very welcome, public-private nonleague game between two teams that spent most of last season in the large school top 10. Tony Truilizio's first game as coach at North Tonawanda features a formidable guest in Sweet Home. Amherst, which moves down to Class B, also hosts an annual power in Lackawanna. With school not having started yet, there are also three city games being held in the afternoon.
For the complete 2012 schedule, go to the high school home page of buffalonews.com.