Leading off today: The New York State Sportswriters Association recently reached out to reporters across the state offering them a chance to be "czar for a day," offering up solutions to issues and other thoughts. This is the first of what we hope will be several contributions leading up to the start of fall sports.
Phil Blackwell, Eagle Newspapers
Being"High School Sports Czar for a Day" sounds great, tempting, exciting, powerful. Given that kind of clout, it's easy to get drunk on it and offer suggestions on anything and everything which bothers me about the whole enterprise.
Rules changes? Sure, in a perfect we'd get a longer football season, a later start to winter sports, shot clocks in lacrosse, and a dozen other ideas, but that also creates other problems, which leads to other problems ...
Have more protection for coaches? Absolutely, for the biggest threat to high school sports, long-term, is a dearth of coaches willing to put up with all that goes with the job. I don't mean teaching the kids and leading them. It's the other stuff -- especially parents that put pressure on administrators to see things their way, even at the expense of order and stability. The more that happens, the more turnover you'll see, and who does that help?
Yet if I were given the power to rule high school sports (and please, may that day never, ever arrive), instead of using that power in a bossy, annoying manner, I would simply use that platform to convey a message to everyone involved, from players to coaches to parents.
Enjoy the journey, no matter where it may take you.
Is that abstract, crazy, naive, ridiculous? Maybe, but in sports, no matter how hard you practice or train, no matter how many hours you sweat and sacrifice, you can never, ever guarantee victory anytime, anywhere.
A common mistake we make in sports, high school or otherwise, is focusing solely on the end result. That leads to a tendency to single out great moments of decision, victory or defeat, and completely forgetting all that led up to it.
Any champion will tell you that the satisfaction gained from such an accomplishment is partially due to the work that went before. No one skips ahead to the trophy ceremony, and if they ever did, fairly or otherwise, the good feeling would quickly evaporate because they didn't put in the sweat which a trophy usually requires.
Of course, in sports, not everyone finishes first. And once we get to high school sports, we're long past the point of participation medals. The vast majority of athletes, by this level, have put in the hard work, and that same vast majority will never experience competition at a higher level, so for them, this is it.
That's why it's important to not let anything stand in the way of enjoying the journey. That includes specialization,