Once again, the dreaded tunnel
It’s been a while since I’ve written about this, and quite frankly I thought it was gone for good. But a couple of weekends ago I was out at a game, watching, not participating in any way, and at the end something horrible reared its ugly head for the first time in a long time (at least that I know of). It was the dreaded “tunnel.”
For those not familiar with it, it’s something the winning team does after the game. The players divide themselves into two lines facing each other, and raise their arms above their heads. They then start banging hands with the person across from them, all the while chanting “We are proud of you, we are proud of you.”
That in and of itself doesn’t sound so bad. But it’s where they do it. They stand at the entrance of their opponent’s dugout, and force the losing team to walk through this tunnel of arms and bodies to get back to their stuff.
Coaches who do it like to claim it’s a tribute to their opponents. But everyone (including them) knows it’s really not. In fact, it’s a way of celebrating your own victory while rubbing it in the noses of the team that just lost. They may be chanting “We are proud of you” but what they’re really saying is “We just kicked your butts, we just kicked your butts.”
I have no problem with a team celebrating its victory. But you don’t do it on your opponent’s side of the field. You do it on your own side, and leave your opponents completely out of it. To hold your celebration on the other side is a direct insult. If you don’t believe that, imagine if the University of Washington had run to Arizona’s dugout a couple of weeks ago, made a tunnel, and started chanting how proud they were of their defeated opponents. Likely you would’ve seen a full-on fistfight break out.
If I am the losing coach (and again I had nothing to do with this particular game), I don’t really care if you are proud of me. Your opinion means nothing to me. My team and I want to clean up the dugout, leave the area, and go do whatever it is we do after a game. To have to walk through your outstreteched arms is not on my list of things to do.
When my son Eric was in soccer, there was a tunnel there too. But in that case it was created by his team’s parents, and our own players would run under it. It was created in front of his team’s bench. I have no problem with that, and had no problem with it when other teams did the same thing. That was a self-contained celebration instead of an “in-your-face” show of superiority. Again, the boys probably knew better than to try doing that on someone else’s side.
Getting back to softball, I’ve always hated the tunnel. We didn’t do it, and quite frankly when it was more popular I told my girls to walk around it rather than go through it. Some of the parents on our team thought it was poor sportsmanship on my part at first until I explained about celebrating on your own side of the field. They got it, and supported the decision going forward.
One year at a meeting of the weekday travel league we played in I made it clear to the other coaches I didn’t want to see it and wouldn’t let my players go through it, so don’t bother. They all agreed it really wasn’t a good thing, and I thought it had finally disappeared. Until last weekend.
You can try to justify it all you want. But it’s just not sportsmanlike to rub your opponent’s face in a loss — which is what you’re really doing. If you’re doing it, stop. If you’re faced with it, you can make your own decision. But I recommend walking around/ignoring it. It’s the only way to make it stop for good.