School sports play a role in growing successful men and women

Published 8:35 am Monday, February 11, 2019

This week a number of high school athletes inked scholarships with colleges and universities to continue their sports playing days at a higher level, among them Garrett Jennings and Maci West of Elizabethton High School and Bayley McGee of Hampton High.
It is an exciting time in high school and middle school sports, locally, as high school basketball teams are gearing up for district and regional playoffs in hopes of earning a berth in the state tournament. Two Junior High teams — the Junior Lady Highlanders and the Hampton Elementary Junior Bulldogs — earned their way to the first-ever TMSAA State Tournament. Both teams were scheduled to play games Friday.
Athletics play a significant role in schools, not only here in Carter County and across the region, but across the state and country, and it benefits communities in many ways. Basketball, football, baseball and other high school sports brings people together, and gives those who participate unbelievable, life-altering opportunities.
Virtually, every little boy dreams of playing professional baseball, football, or basketball. Very few realize that dream, but it does not mean that athletics cannot provide them with other meaningful opportunities. The top tier of athletes often receive a scholarship to attend college and continue their sports career. For many, this may be their only opportunity to attend college.
But for many, high school is the last time they will participate in organized athletics as a player, something that began when many of them were children playing in youth leagues.
For many of these athletes, they have made life-long friends and memories. High school sports has instilled in them life skills, such as pride, the importance of hard work and the determination to do good, not only on the court and field, but in the classroom and in life.
Academics are important. The school room is important and what is taught in the school room is important. The subjects taught in the classroom provide us with the tools to make a living. However, education is more than books and tests and paper.
What is taught on the basketball court and the baseball and football fields are also important. Sports teaches some things that cannot as easily be taught in the classroom, such as how to be around others, how to fail and how to succeed, to strive for our best, to follow the rules, to overcome personality difference and work together as a team, and one of the important character traits, humility.
In sports there is a winner and a loser. This weekend in Murfreesboro, those junior high athletes from Cloudland and Hampton will learn that. They will either return home as winners or losers. Success is never guaranteed and failure is almost certain in every single game. Even if they win, they will look back and see a missed foul shot, a missed three-pointer, a walk, a travel, a missed opportunity.
The point is they won’t quit because of these missed shots, they will keep trying, striving to get better because it matters to them.
And should they lose this weekend in Murfreesboro, they will keep trying to win, because it matters to them.
We wish these two teams well in state competition, but, in our book they are already winners. They achieved to get there.
Some things cannot be learned in the classroom. They can only be learned through competition. And, school sports can provide some meaningful, yet painful, life lessons.

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