Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Wild Card

September 10, 2008

If you are like me, then you probably filled up on football last weekend. My weekend started with a trip to Spring Hill Friday, then to the Kansas-Louisiana Tech game Saturday and finished with the Chiefs-Patriots game Sunday.

Far too often in sports, players and coaches are measured solely on their win-loss record. Granted that is justified to a degree because coaches, players and fans want their teams to win and that is the goal of team sport.

But what can be lost in the win-loss column is the way coaches have a unique ability to teach kids about life lessons that are far greater than sports.

Both Eudora and De Soto lost their football season openers last Friday night. Eudora lost 14-13 to Spring Hill, beaten by miscues and two Hail Mary throws.

De Soto was bested 39-0 by Gardner-Edgerton, though the Wildcats hung around for a while. And the Chiefs couldn't comeback to beat the Patriots. These teams are all 0-1 and Kansas is 2-0.

Friday night De Soto will play at Eudora and one of these teams will begin the season 0-2. Undoubtedly following the game, any number of questions will be asked as to what is wrong with that team and what can be done about it. Should they change quarterbacks? Change the offense a little?

Questions could also linger about the winning team but that team will likely feel better and sleep better than the losing team tomorrow night. But the answer to those questions are best answered by the coaches who see their kids on the field every day and spend countless hours with them coaching them up, trying to make them better players and people.

My high school coach used to say that he learned more about his teams from the first game to the second game. He would also say that no other sport could prepare you for life's lessons better than football.

It's a physical, violent and emotional game. You hit, you get hit and it all takes its toll on the body, mind and soul.

In high school football, I recall the toughest year being freshman year. Freshmen are at the bottom of the ladder in rank and file and generally are the smallest group on the team, meaning that the bigger seniors could have more than 100 pounds and three years of weight lifting and conditioning under their belts.

Freshman and most sophomores usually are at mismatch on the football field compared to the veterans. They don't have the experience or the wherewithal to grasp all that is being thrown at them on the field and off. But that's where coaches can be mentors and guide them in the game of life.

A lot of coaches are high school teachers as well. They see the young kid in class looking at a play sheet when they should be focused on the day's subject.

They see the kids at their best and at times at their worst on the field or in the classroom, such as when a student struggles with a subject or bombs an exam.

Bottom line is that the coaches know and they care. So Friday night when the team that is 0-2 walks off the field with their heads down, just know that whether it be a handshake or hug after a victory or a smile and hello as they pass a student by in the hallway, they help guide these young kids into becoming young adults.

And that's really the final score.

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