2016-11-09 / Sports

Even a loss is a win

Assistant Sports Editor

At the end of any competition, people have a tendency to set a lot of self-worth by if their team won or lost, but there are other ways to measure success.

In a state where 7.8 percent of all arrests in 2015 were juveniles, we should be celebrating any student who chose athletics or extracurriculars over sometimes media-glamorized alternatives. We should rally behind any activity which makes a positive path available to young people. Early in a child’s life, positive options and role models can make all the difference in how that person progresses.

While the fall sports season closes, many will be tallying up win-loss records and to some extent measure their pride in these terms. I feel that it is my duty, as a mere observer, to remind the sports community that no matter the results, every person involved can be very proud.

I’m not talking about the ‘everybody gets a trophy just for showing up’ school of thought. I am saying that the impact of this season will forever change many athletes' fate, regardless of what place they took at a meet or whether they caught the pass. There are freshmen who warmed benches and got hooked on football this year who maybe otherwise might have been doing drugs after school. That student is a victory for the sports community.

Supporting costly sports infrastructure is not a light burden on any town, either, and there are silent players out there working to make these options available to students regardless of socioeconomic status. Every booster club member raising funds for affordable gear or parent who stood in a steamy concession stand after work are the most valuable players in our community.

The state of Maine arrested 103 girls and 341 boys under the age of 18 in 2015 for drug abuse violations, but what if those same 444 children had found a sport they liked at an earlier age and someone to encourage them? They may have had a chance at a healthier future.

What impressed me most about the Massbesic field hockey team was not that they ended up as the regional champions. That team impressed me because even while explaining where there was room for improvement, they never once said anything negative about a player on their team or an opponent. They are composed and respectful young ladies. Their coach, Michele Martin-Moore, was full of pride even after their state championship loss and, just like her team, never had a single negative comment. We need more of that brand of unwavering support for our young people in order to turn out better future citizens.

In the Class A football quarterfinals, Deering lost to Sanford 27-6, but what I remembered best from that game was Deering's head coach Jason Jackson’s first words to his retiring seniors, “Look at me. It doesn’t get any easier from here. You think it’s hard now? It just gets harder. You have to wake up everyday and keep trying.” He didn’t sugar-coat it. He was doing his best to prepare young men for real life.

That is what our coaches are doing everyday for the young people of our community. Your electoral candidates may not have won, but you have real local leaders producing concrete results everyday in your local community and they are worthy of praise for improving young lives.

I am thankful to the players I saw get sacked by boys 70 pounds heavier than them, not for the spectacle, but because I am grateful they chose to do something productive with their time when there were so many easier alternatives. The parents who scraped time out for bake sales so that every child who wanted to play could have access to proper equipment are worthy of equal praise. Last but not least, I would like to thank the community's coaching staff, many of whom are also math teachers, guidance counselors, and parents themselves. These people are all members of a team we should be cheering year-round.

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