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Unwritten rules add style, etiquette to sports

Art by Rachel Lee


In sports, unwritten rules provide an unspoken language for teams and can, many times, add a layer of etiquette and class to sports.

Burton Liu, a Paly baseball player believes that unwritten rules are impacted by etiquette and how teams present themselves. These unwritten rules add class to sports and can many times show the manners and style in which teams play.

“I would say if you do a bad flip and slowly walk around the bases, your coach will see that as a sign of disrespect… and if you are in a three – zero count, you don’t swing at the next pitch and you also don’t steal unnecessary bases if you are up by a lot.” Liu said.

In football, junior Jeremiah Madrigal believes that one of the most crucial and important unwritten rules is avoiding running up the score.

“Scoring really high numbers is one (unwritten rule) if you are attempting to be disrespectful to your opposing team.” Madrigal said.

Madrigal said overscoring on teams is a disrespectful strategy. For sports like football, where the outcome of a game can be decided in the first half, overscoring can rub defeat into the opposing team and also be perceived as disrespectful.

Madrigal also said a universal unwritten rule in many other sports is not being overly physical. When a team is blowing out another team, they have no reason to be overly aggressive, he said.

“If you’re up by a lot, and you’re being too aggressive, it just makes no sense,” Madrigal said.

While unwritten rules all have a similar foundation of respect, they can vary from sport to sport. Junior Max Yeh said that in volleyball, unwritten rules involve sportsmanship and never taunting the opponent.

“All the cheers and stuff they do during games where you taunt, ‘How high is the net’ and all that,” Yeh said, “you don’t do that to a team that you are blowing out. You do it to a team that you are competitive with.”

Sometimes, referees can even penalize players for rules that are unwritten but actions that are outright wrong. In volleyball, Yeh recounts a time when the referee called a foul on a play that technically did not break any rules, but did something unsportsmanlike.

“We were blowing out Gunn and one of our team members — the ball was going out — pretended to touch it and let it go out and got a red card for that from the ref,” Yeh said.

In football, another unwritten rule is making an effort to play backup players if one team is dominating the other,  junior Iki Topou said.

“If we’re blowing out a team, or if we’re getting blown out, you’re not supposed to play your starters.” Topou said. 

In sports like football, in which teams have large rosters, backup players and third-strings are readily available, Topou said. It is a norm in the sport, to not consistently go at your opponent at full firepower. This is especially true when one team is blowing out another and the game is not competitive.

“You’re supposed to put in your third string and put in the people that you want to see play.” Topou said. 

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Neel Sharma, Sports Editor
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