Meet my new Facebook friend

When you receive dozens of emails a day, there are few subject headings that make your jaw drop.

This one did.

“Add A. Tude wants to be friends on Facebook”

I could hardly believe the little guy — he appears just over 5-feet tall — took the time to reach out to me. Heck, I just became a Facebook member a few weeks ago. Just as I was the last one on my block to buy CDs, I am perhaps the last human in Illinois to join Facebook. You’ve no doubt heard of it.

Here’s my link:

George M. Wilcox

No, I still don’t own an iPod and of course, I still have no way of knowing how to get the music inside of it. Apparently through Facebook my friends can text me at 32665, but please don’t expect me to text you back. My fat fingers don’t work so well on that tiny keypad for my company-issued Blackberry.

We even have a Heard in the Hallways Facebook page set up. New technology rapidly approaches. It is taking me a while to catch up even though I still enjoy listening to CDs in the car. But it’s still too bad my car doesn’t play cassette tapes.

I was so excited to add Mr. Tude as a Facebook friend. I messaged him some questions through his Facebook page, and the following were his responses from the longtime Bloomington resident. Enjoy.

Q. How old are you?

A. I joined the IHSA in the summer of 1997 and began promoting the ideals of sportsmanship at IHSA events and state finals during the 1997-98 school year.

Q. Now that the school year has ended, what do you consider the state of sportsmanship today?

A. I believe that the emphasis being placed on sportsmanship at the youth, high school, collegiate and professional levels is helping to improve sportsmanship at all levels. There are always going to be folks who display poor sportsmanship, either by purposely targeting a player/coach official or simply by having a momentary lapse in judgment due to the emotions surrounding a contest. From my perspective, it seems that the individuals demonstrating good sportsmanship are now less accepting of these types of poor behaviors from other fans and more willing to tell others to respect the game and everyone involved in it.

Q. Do you have any new sportsmanship policies/programs you are working on?

A. I work closely with the IHSA Student Advisory Committee and the IHSA Sportsmanship Committee, both of which are always working on new initiatives to promote and increase sportsmanship at IHSA events. We are very excited about the 2011 IHSA Leadership Conference, which will be held on September 26, 2011 at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria. All students from member high schools are welcome to attend (contact your Athletic Director for information on attending). Renowned speaker Harvey Alston will serve as the keynote speaker, while Student Advisory Committee members will lead a number of other sessions on leadership, sportsmanship and other topics relevant to high school students today.

Q. Do you have a favorite state meet or tournament that you attend in terms of sportsmanship you see?

A. Each state final tournament has its own unique characteristics that make it special. My favorite can change from week to week based on the positive sportsmanship I see by the student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans. Perhaps the standout moment of the year for me from the 2010-11 school year was the Zion-Benton fans at the Girls Basketball State Finals cheering their team on with an incredible fervor in the closing minutes of the state championship game despite being down by an insurmountable margin. There are so many great moments like this I get to witness each year, but it is often the little displays of sportsmanship happening every day in contests across the state, like a player helping an opposing player up or a sincere “great game” after a contest that bring a smile to my face.

Q. What examples of poor sportsmanship bother you most?

A. I have found that there is a direct correlation between good sportsmanship and a student body cheering section that has been following and supporting a team throughout the entire season, as opposed to a group that starts attending games in the postseason or when the team reaches the state finals. The organized student body groups that have been there all year long don’t dwell on a perceived bad call by an official or a scoring run by the other team because they have immersed themselves into the contest and, like the players, have to move on. But instead of moving to the next play, they are moving on to the next cheer or chant or choreographed celebration. It is the student group that hasn’t been there all year long, that isn’t sure how to react in the face of adversity that often lead to individuals in that group yelling at opposing players or officials or other unsporting acts as a way of trying to make their presence felt.

Q. Are there any cool things I should check out on your Facebook page?

A. At the moment I am still learning the ins and outs of Facebook, but am trying to make as many friends as possible to help promote sportsmanship. I try to post good sportsmanship stories I find online and hope to post photos, video and other info on events like our upcoming Leadership Conference in Peoria. Also, many people who have taken photos of me at IHSA state final events have posted those photos on my page, so please friend me at www.facebook.com/addatude and post any photos you have or just say hello!

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