The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 20 - 1/11/01
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
by Nellie Steele
Sports have been with us always. This liking must be encoded in our genes. Put two children together, especially boys, and it isn't long before they have determined which can run the fastest, jump the farthest or throw a ball the best. Leave the children alone and this does not lead to animosity, it just establishes a fact that people are different, and the children go on from there.
Enter the adults. Soon the children are organized into teams and the players are sorted out as to natural ability. "Making the team" becomes a major goal which carries with it special status. Benchwarmers are low on the pecking order no matter what their qualifications in personality or other endeavors. But soon the team is faced with a problem: they are pitted against another team, and to win is the only acceptable result. Off to the doghouse for the loser, great joy for the winners and all the adults involved. This is said to be great for the self-esteem for those who won, and self-esteem is said to be one of the main priorities in life, no matter how it is gained. But for every winner there is a loser. What about the loser's self esteem? All the shrieking and cheering by the would-be coaches and spectators must be very confusing to young players. Even adults have trouble dealing with it.
What ever happened to kids drifting into an empty lot or cow pasture on a summer Saturday morning and organizing their own games? It worked very well for centuries. Without all the pressure from above the games were fun instead of an obligation. Friendships were formed and skills in dealing with human relationships were developed. Those children who were not endowed with athletic ability were able to move in other directions, often to pursuits as worthwhile as sports and possibly more lasting.
Today it is accepted that good parenting demands that fathers and mothers dabble in all phases of their offspring's lives. To a small child, parents are the last word in authority and security. Does it help the child to see these parents as whooping, shrieking creatures reduced to kid level?
The theory that children learn more from other children than from parents may have a grain of truth to it. Maybe more than a grain, but parents are still the last word, the Supreme Court. It is a blend of the two influences that have always developed character.
When we say "sports" we usually mean team sports. That is where most of the hoopla is. When a team loses, a community bows its head in shame and a coach may get fired. When a team wins, there is rejoicing and a few young people (probably ordinary young people) become as gods. A school is recognized by the winnings of this select group. There are people who do not believe this is the purpose of our education system, but their voices are drowned out by the thunder of applause for the winners of games.
It is mind boggling the vast sums of money that goes into sports at college and professional levels. It also blows the mind how some of the people who are held up as models for our children to admire and imitate are well known for their criminal records and general gross behavior.
Yet, the fact remains that sports are good. They help make healthy bodies, can relieve tensions, blow away frustrations and let us have fun and happiness. We will never do without them but we need to consider the outcome of some of our attitudes.
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