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A vote for success - the importance of sports

The importance of sports varies widely for many reasons, but I for one cannot get my arms around why some people believe that sports are not an important element in our school system. I would not be the person I am today without sports in my life, now and when I was growing up.

With hard times facing this country, I would think that people would embrace an activity that can clear the head, keep the heart pumping, and take one’s mind off all the negative things happening around them. But for some, including many of the people planning to vote against our upcoming levy, sports is a waste of money and should not be in the school curriculum at all. Cut The Sports!

I disagree completely.

There are many aspects in life that can be learned while participating in sports, whether it is soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, track, golf, bowling, or anything that challenges the mind and body in a different capacity. In team sports, people learn social skills such as how to work in groups to attain common goals. In individual sports, people learn how to overcome obstacles using their mind and body to achieve specific goals. Either of which teaches children how to be competitive in a very competitive world.

Participating in sports also helps people stay healthy, and judging by the obesity that has overtaken the United States, it can’t hurt to give our children the encouragement and opportunity to exercise. Not only is exercise good for the body, it is essential for mental health.

Let’s face it. This country is getting lazy! I for one will not succumb to it. I say we encourage our children to get out there and join a sport. I feel some people would rather our children plop down in front of the computer and play video games, and while I’m not a big fan of it, I do agree that there can be some vital things learned from this, but it won’t help the heart stay strong and the waist stay slim.

Sports also give our children something to do. How many times do we as parents hear our children say, “There’s nothing to do, I’m bored.”? Extracurricular activities such as sports give our children something to look forward to, something to do that has meaning, all the while staying active and healthy.

I recall in high school that being involved in sports was a positive reward for working hard in school. If my grades didn’t pass, I didn’t play. It wasn’t up to the school whether I played or not, it was up to my parents. I was held to a higher standard from my parents than I was by the school. My parents were involved in my grades, and in my sports. That gave me the drive to succeed in both. I learned that hard work paid off, both in the classroom and the gridiron.

I can remember having a conversation at the dinner table one night with my parents, and I made a comment about one of my classmates being dumb. My parents quickly corrected me and told me my classmate was not dumb at all, but very intelligent. He was the quarterback of our football team, and in order to be a good quarterback, you had to be smart, you had to take on the role of a leader. He led us to four undefeated league titles, no losses on our home field in four years, and a state championship. He was able to take ten other high school boys, unite them for a common goal, and be successful. He was instrumental in boosting confidence in all of us, helping us to grow up and be responsible for our jobs on the football field. Dumb?

Our coach taught us how to be gracious winners. We did have a lot of experience on the winning side, but he also taught us how to accept losing. We went on to lose three times in the divisional playoffs over the next three years, and while it was never as fun losing as it was winning, we walked off the field with our heads high and with a sense of accomplishment. It’s called sportsmanship.

Our coach was later named to the Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame for his accomplishments. He was and will always be one of my favorite teachers. He rarely opened a textbook for us to read, unless you call the playbook a textbook, and I think he still thinks you spell “cat” with a “k”, but he was a great teacher, mentor, and leader.

The quarterback of our football team, well, he went on to the military and participated in Desert Storm. He was honored to fight for our freedom as a Sergeant in the Army, uniting a team of soldiers into battle with a common goal, teaching them to be responsible for their jobs, and came out successful. He now has five children and is happy leading them down a healthy road to success.

Not only did football provide an activity for some, it provided many other opportunities for students. Rarely did we ever play a football game without our “fight song” roaring in the background. It was an opportunity for the band to sharpen their skills while performing in front of a crowd. The cheerleaders were AWESOME! The drill team always performed a great halftime show. The whole town came together to watch and cheer on the home team.

When football was over, we moved on to basketball. When basketball was over, we moved on to track. And when track was over, we moved on to baseball. We never accomplished the same success as we did in football, but we never quit learning sportsmanship, leadership, competition, teamwork and respect. These are all life lessons I’m happy to pass on to my children, and what fun to watch my children use these tools in their chosen sports.

There is a story of a man who received a basketball for his birthday one year. At first, he really didn’t use the ball very much for its intended purpose. Later, he began taking the ball to school every day and practicing with it, and soon became a talented high school basketball player. In difficult situations on the court, he demanded the ball with confidence. Sometimes he succeeded, sometimes he failed, but in the end, he learned how to accept failure, and nurture success. He never went on to play professional basketball—he had other dreams—but credits the game for teaching him some great life lessons. He still plays basketball as much as his schedule will allow, and he not only gets a good exercise, he continues to learn from the game. His name is President Obama.

There are many life lessons to be learned from participating in sports, so before we take away these opportunities from our children, I say we look at how we can tighten our belts in other ways, otherwise, we will continue to loosen our belts. Yes there is tightening to be done, but I don’t think eliminating athletic programs from the schools is the right answer. Let’s come together as a team and find a way to keep these vital learning opportunities in place. Let’s teach our children teamwork with a vote of confidence.


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Author info

Clint Nicholson Clint Nicholson Clint Nicholson is the sales manager for Keokee Publishing in Sandpoint. His former experience is with newspapers and automobiles.

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