South Carolina Coach, Darryl Nance, Discusses Sportsmanship


In South Carolina, the name of the game is practice, drills, and more practice. And that’s for the players, too.

It's 6:50 on an overcast Tuesday morning and the Coach is already at his desk thinking about last night's game. He'll always be Coach, no matter where he goes, or what life throws at him, even though he hasn't been on the sidelines, or on the court for years. It's a designation that travels with you like Doc, Skipper, or Chef.

His hands are full and so is his mind. As the Athletic Director of Greenville County Schools, the largest school district in South Carolina, he's worried, not about sports, but about sportsmanship.

As is every Athletic Director in the country.

Coach Darryl Nance

Greenville is a rabid sports town. The Greenville Triumph are a pro soccer crew; the Swamp Rabbits are a Double-A hockey team; and the Greenville Drive are part of the Boston Red Sox farm system complete with their own Green Monster left-field wall that's 7'6" short of being an exact replica of Fenway. And then there's Greenville's most famous baseball player, a legend who brought sportsmanship to the highest level, only to bring it down to the cellar.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson turned the White Sox into the Black Sox with a single $5,000 bribe. After the fix, Joe returned home to Greenville to operate a liquor store where he later died of a heart attack. Or was it a tattered heart?

With 77,000 students, a $590 million budget, and over 4,900 teachers - more than 60% of the teachers have Master's Degrees - there are a lot of smart people in the Greenville County School District, and Coach Darryl Nance is one of them.

"Here's why I tell parents to never yell at an official. If you behave badly, officials won't officiate; there won't be any games played; you'll never watch your kid participate; those kids will never experience the thrill, excitement and education-based value that athletics can teach them; and then, because of your belligerence, you didn't just ruin it for your kid, you ruined it for everyone," says Nance, teacher, Coach, parent, mentor, leader, and interestingly enough, amalgamator of more basketball technical fouls than you can shake a Swamp Rabbits' hockey stick at.

Nationwide, the shortage of high school refs is problematic; Arbiter's exhaustive research is conclusive. We've conducted surveys among assigners, athletic directors, administrators, as well as one-on-one interviews with officials, state high school associations, and coaches. It's not so much that the results are conclusive as much as they are alarming. In fact, studies indicate the year-over-year shrinkage of qualified officials is averaging 30%.

A good reason for that is sportsmanship, but it doesn't need to be. "We should never forget that refs and officials are doing that job for you. They've taken tests, they're giving up their one free night each week to do this, and sometimes several nights a week. Believe me, they're not doing it for the money. You would no more expect to be harassed, and take it, in your job, so why do you think it's okay to harass someone in their job? It's not, period," says Nance.

Yet, sportsmanship remains an issue in nearly every school district in the country. So how, in the case of Greenville County Schools, has the Coach managed to exert some sway over bad behavior? Not surprisingly, he has some answers, and a few, very strong recommendations."