September 29, 2010 We received a letter recently which on the surface seemed innocent enough. It was not signed so according to our policy we could not run it as a letter to the editor. We assume the letter was written by a parent. After reflecting on the letter writer's message we recognized it as just another example of a very troubling issue—parents and high school sports.
Following is the letter:
To the Editor:
Yet another school athletic season is upon us, how exciting for the families of the "select" athletes that are ALWAYS pictured in your sports section. The same faces are always featured (regardless of how well they played). Why not feature some of the other players on the teams?
The coaches encourage playing as a TEAM, shouldn't we encourage all the players regardless of their athletic abilities? How rewarding it must be for the athletes to know they are ALL recognized for a great game or season.
We have no idea what sport the writer is referring to, or which one of the four schools we cover. There is no question the athlete who handles the ball the most is going to get featured more than athlete who does not have a ball in his/her hand. Chances are if they make a play somewhere near the ball consistently they will end up on our sports pages at some point throughout the season.
The troubling statement is, "shouldn't we encourage all the players regardless of their athletic abilities?"
There seems to be this growing sentiment that children have a right to play and be recognized as an athlete by simply putting on a uniform. And further more they are entitled to playing time and pictures in the newspaper, regardless of talent or effort devoted to their sport.
Parents should be teaching their children life is not fair. They should be teaching them they are responsible for their own actions and path in life, that anything can be accomplished through hard work and effort. And that may or may not include a photo of them in the local paper.
The idea this newspaper would only run "select" athletes on our pages is ridiculous. We sell names and faces, why would we limit it to a few? Those who know us, know we make every effort to get as many athletes on our sports pages as we possibly can.
Over the past few years some parents have been far too vocal in our opinion when it comes to youth sports. Far too often criticizing coaches and school administrators for poor teams, playing time and a variety of other faults. Perhaps you should make sure your child is doing what is needed to improve his/her skills to earn playing time or make the team better. Teach them to accept responsibility on their own without blaming others.
We understand you only want the best for your son or daughter. We do too. Placing blame elsewhere will not serve your child better in life after sports.
Come on folks, these aren't five-year-olds we're talking about, these are young adults. They should know how these things work by now.
Please, please don't let your child think your love for them is based on how they perform on a field or if their picture is or isn't in the newspaper.