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Hats off to youth sports and their many lessons: Editorial

Posted 5/3/17

Too often we get caught up in what’s wrong with sports, not what is right.

What is wrong with sports mostly focuses on the professional ranks. The greed of the owners. The greed of the players. …

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Hats off to youth sports and their many lessons: Editorial

Posted

Too often we get caught up in what’s wrong with sports, not what is right.

What is wrong with sports mostly focuses on the professional ranks. The greed of the owners. The greed of the players. Franchises moving. The fans’ cost of going to games skyrocketing. Winning at all costs.

The more you move down the ladder, the better it gets. Yes, college sports are big business. But these sports are played by young men and women who most likely aren’t going to go on and play professional sports. They are enjoying their last shot at playing a sport they love competitively before they move on to the rest of their lives.

Moving down even more: With young people, in local sports at the high school level, there is a sense of community pride that we’ve discussed in previous editorials. Our town is better than yours. We beat our rival. We can’t wait as a community for next Friday’s football game or next Saturday’s basketball game. We love to see our sons and daughters play, and excel, on the field. We have pride in them, and in the community.

But then we drop down even lower, to where young athletes get their start, in youth sports.

The Lower Swatara Township Athletic Association is marking its 50th year in 2017. It has sent thousands of youngsters through its baseball and softball ranks. Teams of the Middletown Amateur Baseball Association and the Londonderry Athletic Association, which feature softball and baseball as well, are now in full swing.

These teams bring not only youngsters together, but families. Lifelong friends are made not only among players, but among the parents who spend so much time shuttling their children to games and then sitting in the stands watching them and socializing with others.

Some parents choose to be coaches, to help mold the minds and attitudes of our young people. It’s not an easy job, but it sure can be a rewarding one.

Young people can learn so much from playing sports. Commitment. Hard work. Punctuality. Teamwork. Respect. Motivation. Character. Physical fitness. That’s why groups such as the LSTAA, LAA and MABA and many, many more that help young people in sports ranging from baseball and softball to soccer and hockey are so key.

Sure, many of these young people will not play in high school, not to mention college or the pros.

But the memories will last a lifetime. The friendships will endure. The lessons will remain.

It should not be about winning or losing. But that also doesn’t mean we think everyone should get a trophy, either.

It’s more about the lesson. We must teach our young people to deal with setbacks, because life is full of them. As author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said succinctly: “If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”

We realize that even at the lowest levels, there can be problems. Some parents are overbearing. They yell at their children while they are playing. They yell at the umpires. They yell at parents of the opposing team’s players. Some coaches are too caught up in winning. Sometimes a sport can become all-consuming, and focus on the rest of a young person’s life is lost. But these issues are not the norm.

We say congratulations to LSTAA on 50 years of helping young people enjoy sports and learn important lessons from them. Here’s to many more years of fun and success, wins and losses, friendships made and lessons learned.