Local teams kick off the fall sports seasons

Thursday, August 23, 2018

If you've been reading the Southeast Missourian the last few days, you've seen that our sports sections have previewed our local football teams.

It's the time of year when fall sports get in full swing; and not just football. (Though there is something special about fall Friday nights or Saturday afternoons at a football stadium.)

But whether you are a sports fan or not, it's important to understand the many positive virtues that sports instills in our students. Sports require discipline, the will to push your body when your mind wants to stop. They require effort. Only those who play and practice their hardest will be rewarded. Sports require building relationships with teammates; athletes must put aside personal differences to work toward common goals. They teach patience and determination, because all athletes endure setbacks and disappointments. They teach commitment. And so much more.

It is also important for us as teachers, coaches and parents to highlight the virtues of sport. Because sports can also bring out negatives, sometimes. Sports can be divisive. They can be ego-driven. They can be all-consuming.

So it's also important that sports do not take over lives, and that they are viewed through the proper context and lenses. In our school systems, we must understand that academics and learning are more important. Too much emphasis on athletic endeavors at the expense of academic pursuits is not a good formula for future success. Sports should complement our student-athletes, not consume them and certainly not replace other areas of our lives.

We love our sports, and we value the spirit of competition. Sports should be fun to play and watch, and our athletes are right to take them seriously. We tip our caps to those who put in hours in the weight rooms, the gym or the batting cage. These habits are necessary to bring out the best of our potential.

We also salute all the coaches and parents who teach their children values through sport, who understand and explain that grace, morality and ethics don't leave us when we step between the lines of competition.

Here's to all our athletes as we enter another sports season. May your seasons be deemed in successes beyond wins and losses. May your work be rewarded with individual and team improvement, and lessons learned along the way.

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