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Something to think about...by Superintendent Westerberg

This time of the year I watch my share of college football and I’ve noticed a growing trend of players opting out of playing in a bowl game; something completely unheard of a few years ago. I understand this decision is motivated by a concern an injury could harm their chance of being a high draft choice during the upcoming NFL draft or possibly incurring a career-ending injury.  I understand it’s a business decision, but it rubs me wrong.

 

For most college football players and teams, playing in a bowl game is a goal.  It’s a measuring stick for determining if the season was a success.  I see the decision to bypass a bowl game as an example of something distasteful that’s infiltrated sports at all levels … the belief that individual needs are greater than that of the team. One doesn’t need to look far to see the antics of highly paid professional athletes having a hissy fit when the needs of the team compromised their personal statistics during a game.  Unfortunately, some college sports have also become too much of a business and the concept of “team first” has been compromised.  

 

Though not driven by a professional contract or college scholarship, the belief that self is more important than team has invaded sports at the youth level as well. Ask any youth or school team coach if they’ve had complaints from parents about playing time or coaching decisions that don’t allow their child to be a star and you’ll likely get an ear full.  One of my sons is in his first year as a middle school teacher and coach in suburban Kansas City.  I’ve enjoyed talking to him about his experiences in his new career. He recently shared that overall it has been a great experience, with the only compliant so far coming from a parent upset his daughters weren’t starters on the basketball team, even though they have more playing time than some of the starters.  Yes, middle school.  I wasn’t able to provide any insightful words of wisdom or encouragement other than to assure him this situation is now commonplace and if he plans to continue coaching he’d better get use to it. 

 

A close friend recently shared an article written over ten years ago by a reporter for my hometown newspaper.  The article talked about six senior boys on the high school basketball team who received very limited playing time; however, their contributions to the team were invaluable and their attitudes were always positive.  My friend’s son was one of these seniors. The article can be found at this link and is worth reading for those of you who still believe team is more important than self.