I’m sure that by now most of you know that football season, the regular part, has ended, and that our intrepid school kids have moved on to the next phase of school sports — basketball season.
Many will probably lament the season records, or not, but the one thing no one will lament is the benefits of organized sports.
At least at the high-school level.
For years, I was involved with Little League, as a coach and a board member, because more than anything, I wanted to give kids the same benefits I got during my time in “uniform.”
More than just baseball, I got improved hand-eye coordination, timing, strategy skills, team-building and teamwork skills and I was in a heck of a lot better shape that I am now, plus, I learned to play baseball. (I’ve even learned not to dine out anymore on those games where I was incredibly magnificent. Sort of.)
I also learned appreciation.
I learned that coaches and board members and umpires and concession stand workers and even groundskeepers are volunteers who gave a lot of their time and talent to give me talent and training.
Since my time in the sport was while my dad was in the Air Force, and we were overseas, I learned that the space for fields wasn’t easy to come by, and that the generosity of people allowed us to play.
I learned to be patient and have fun, particularly when playing against a team from a different country.
Mostly, I learned that this, and all the other sports, couldn’t and wouldn’t exist without the efforts of all sorts of people coming together.
Much like sports from every level, including schools and even professional teams, and just like most things in life.
When I see or hear about things like Lebron James, one of the best players in the NBA, criticizing teams or using his celebrity as a sports hero to spout nonsense about social issues, I see it as a betrayal of those ideals that are defined by organized sports.
Even more so, this continued kneeling and disrespect for the country during the national anthem, particularly at the Olympic Games, is something that only shows us as whining, over-entitled narcissists.
Whatever happened to the joy of being part of something bigger than ourselves?
Some of the most exciting things I’ve seen, particularly this year, is how even with a losing record, players still stood up, gritted their collective teeth, and pushed through to the end of each game. And as anyone ever involved in sports will tell you, learning to lose the right way is equally as instructive as success.
Imagine the kind of city, and state, and country we would live in if that kind of dedication was applied in any and all endeavors. Progress would be so amazing, and the things we create would double as monuments to teamwork.
While all that hardware in the cases at the front of every school is impressive, what is equally as impressive is the amount of work that goes into each and every one, from the benchwarmers all the way to head coaches, school boards and, of course, parents and booster clubs.
From that point of view, everyone is a winner.