Coaches seem to agree, when it comes to young people, emotions can cause even the best student-athletes to err in judgement.
There have been two high-profile incidents in District 3 football this season that highlight how a game can unravel. South Annville Township police in Lebanon County on Wednesday filed charges in the on-field scuffle from a September football game between Annville-Cleona and Hamburg that resulted in a Hamburg player pulling off the helmet of an opposing player and swinging it at his head. In another incident, an on-field fight involving Steel-High and Susquenita players resulted in a double forfeit. It marks the only loss so far for Steel-High as the Rollers prepare for their district championship matchup with York Catholic at noon Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
"How do you avoid it? You have to be proactive," Red Lion football coach Jesse Shay said. "There's nothing you can do to prepare for a player pulling off another player's helmet and swinging it like a weapon, but there are things you can do to prevent it. It's all about setting the culture.
"We're always talking about doing what's best for the team in all matters (on and off the field). So if a player takes a cheap shot at you, the most typical response is to go back (at the other player). That's only going to hurt the team, and we want them to think about the team first."
West York's Ron Miller explained that he knows most coaches talk about the right way and wrong way to play the game.
"It's so hard today to instill these values ... because it's what (students) see on Sunday and Saturday," Miller said in reference to bad behavior in the NFL and college football. "You just constantly preach about (playing with class)."
So if a practice becomes heated or a fight breaks out, Miller and his staff discipline the players involved and talk to players about the right way and wrong way to handle a situation.
"We use it as a teaching situation," he said.
And coaches talk about ramifications.
"Virtually everything you do now has the potential to go worldwide, because everyone has access to that technology in our pocket," Central York coach Brad Livingston said. "We try to talk to our kids about this, 'Anything you do has the possibility of going online. Stay calm. Keep your cool.'"