True value of sports
Franklin County Times
I took a sport sociology class in college, and I remember reading a study that was conducted on why kids play sports. Winning wasn't even in listed as a top three reason for kids, who said they played to have fun, be with friends and belong to a team.
Maybe it's ridiculous, but sometimes watching a Little League or T-ball game can be more enjoyable than watching a high school ball game because younger kids understand that playing sports should be an enjoyable experience. Also, the rules in youth sports tend to promote participation over winning, while high school athletes seem to face much more pressure to win and earn college athletic scholarships.
Sports are supposed to teach characteristics such as discipline, respect, integrity and resilience, but awards such as most valuable player or player of the year don't necessarily recognize those traits. That type of recognition goes to players with gaudy statistics and superior athletic ability, and good character isn't usually a deciding factor.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association is trying to emphasize sportsmanship as the core aspect of prep sports. In November, the AHSAA began something called the "Sportsmanship Spotlight," which recognizes an individual or team that has been noticed as a model of good sportsmanship during the previous month at an athletic event or activity. Any witness of this type of action can nominate a student-athlete or team through a form that is available online at www.al.com.
According to the AHSAA, sportsmanship is defined as "conduct and attitude considered to be appropriate in sports, especially commitment to fair play, ethical behavior, integrity, genuine concern for others and grace in winning or losing. Ideals of sportsmanship apply equally to all athletic disciplines and to all individuals involved, regardless of their role in athletics."
The first award recognized the Briarwood volleyball team for leading the crowd in singing the national anthem after the public address system at the Pelham Civic Center malfunctioned during the state tournament's opening ceremony.
I was curious to find out who was recognized this month, and I was proud to find out that a player from my old high school had been selected after he insisted that his junior teammates also be honored on Senior Night because he felt they were just as important in the team's success this past season.
I've watched a lot of games this year, and sportsmanship isn't hard to find in Franklin County. A couple of weeks ago I covered the Red Bay football team's semifinal game against Fyffe, and both teams treated each other with class afterwards, which was a tribute to their coaches and schools. And as the Tigers walked off the field, I heard several Fyffe parents yell out encouragement them.
Not every player and team can experience perfect seasons or state titles, but they can still be champions. A few years ago I read a great quote by Deshler coach John Mothershed, whose team plays Russellville in the season opener.
"A championship is not something you can win. It's not a trophy, and it's not something you put on your finger. It's what you are."