Its how you play the game that counts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006

As I travel around Shelby County meeting coaches and players in my resumed role as sports editor of the Shelby County Reporter, I keep hearing a reassuring theme.

I keep hearing athletes talk about the fun and friendship associated with their various sports.

I keep hearing coaches talking about the lessons of life, teamwork, sportsmanship, communication and collaboration to accomplish goals together.

While winning is great and proving to be a superior athlete in a particular sport can lead to a college scholarship and a successful financial career as a professional athlete &8212; winning isn&8217;t the end-all and be-all of sports.

There is that side of sports that teaches people who don&8217;t have superior athletic ability the skills to be successful in other careers in life.

While I don&8217;t mean to get into that argument that &8220;heart&8221; absolves poor performance, teams that don&8217;t play together, that don&8217;t remain positive and who don&8217;t leave it all out on the field giving 100 percent every time are somehow not losers just because they keep getting out there . . .

I do recognize that any individual or team that does maintain a positive attitude, that does play the game with 100 percent effort even when the odds are stacked against them, that maintains good sportsmanship, that lives and dies together as it were on the field knowing that they did all they could, are not losers.

Think about it. Two teams battle it out giving every ounce of sweat on every play.

They swap blow for blow. But when the horn sounds to end the contest one team has dominated the other.

If the &8220;losing team&8221; gave its very best, as one coach who did not want to be quoted put it recently, how can you call those kids losers?

So as volleyball season begins Aug. 24 and football season begins Aug. 31 along with cross country and swimming, I want to remind parents, fans, players and coaches of that old adage, it&8217;s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.

I have seen it expressed by the many coaches and players of Shelby County I have met thus far. And I hope to see it throughout the year