Sports have long been used as metaphors for life lessons. The emotional ups and downs that come with victory, and ultimately, defeat. The notion that, no matter the odds, and no matter how big your opponent appears to be, never lose faith in your ability; perhaps above all else, do your best, and never give up.
These lessons are learned on our Little League and Pop Warner fields from when our children are barely strong enough to hold up a bat, or fill out a football helmet. Watching kids struggle to grasp the basic tasks of each sport is a form of entertainment you won’t find in the Major Leagues. So, to find your child, or your local high school team excel beyond their peers into the higher echelon of the amateur levels, it allows for a sense of familial and community pride.
High school sports provides each child a conduit into self confidence and the importance of developing a strong work ethic, just as much as the classroom or auditorium for academics and the arts. There are those who would argue, and have valid points to back themselves. The focus on winning develops an emphasis on cheating, on eliminating the weaker player, on placing too much value on the wrong emotional traits.
Truth be told, those same concerns can be argued in any environment, from the corporate world to the classroom. There are always opportunities to learn about the consequences from bad behavior. If our schools are to assist our children in developing themselves into full-rounded adults, sports should always be an option.
This past week our community was treated to the spoils of hard, individual efforts from high school teams that excelled beyond their peers. Achieving the opportunity to earn a championship trophy, and retain the lifelong memories to follow. These are the days each player learns the benefits of playing as a team. The pride that follows when wins are associated with the name of their hometown scrolled across his or her chest. Where they see the respect in the eyes of other teams and towns people as they walk upon the court. No one sees a surname on the back of the jersey. They see the colors, and the school name. And, what follows next is the sense of responsibility to act as a good example for your hometown.
This week, we congratulate our high school scholastic athletes after Bethlehem and Colonie, two schools we cover week in and week out, played each other for a Section II, Class AA championship. Win or lose, the memories from this season will stay with you forever. Cherish them, and take with you the lessons learned from a successful season.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.