Monday, 2 December 2013

The importance of sport today

                This past weekend reaffirmed my thoughts on the importance of sport.  There is a lot going on these days with funding cut backs and general misunderstanding of the need for sport in our society.  My observations and interactions with public high school coaches have me wondering if there will be high school sport or even moderately useful functioning physical education departments within the next ten years.  I will not get into the politics involved but I will share my thoughts on the importance of sport based off of what I was a part of this past weekend. 

                The Carson Graham Eagles matched up against John Barsby (the only team we had lost to this year) for the provincial championship at B.C. Place this past Saturday.  We had a great week of practice and the boys showed up ready to play.  We have had our ups and downs like all teams do, but this team was different than last year’s team (although it is made of the same kids as last year plus a few new grade 10’s and 11’s).  We transitioned from a group of underachievers to a group of overachievers in an instant.  Our opening drive had us coming out on fire and scoring after a great series of plays. It was a highly physical game with points going back and forth for both sides. In the end, Barsby won the game in the dying minutes and took the lead by one point.  The boys had just under: 90 seconds to make a comeback.  We marched the ball down to the opposing team’s 20 yard line putting us into field goal range with just :1 second  left on the clock.  Unfortunately we were unable to get the ball off in time and the game was over at the whistle.  What does this have to do with the importance of sport you ask?  How about these kids learned something that school or even their parents cannot do for them!

They learned; humility, hard work doesn’t always pay off the way you would like it to, mental and physical toughness, creativity, teamwork and discipline. Now, if you are a teacher or parent, you may not see the value in these things, but as someone that trains and leads a group of staff members I can tell you these traits are more important than a few letters after their last name.  I am by no means taking away from the value of education, but if we want well rounded citizens as our husbands, daughters, wives, friends, brothers, sisters, team mates etc. I think sport teaches a lesson that is being missed by academia.

After the game the head coach asked me to say a few words.  I may or may not have dropped a few “F” bombs, but what I did say is that I have been there.  20 years ago to be exact.  My only two memories of high school football were going undefeated in the league play and losing in the final game.  I explained how that one game had more of an effect on my life than winning a conference championship in University or any bowl games.  That I still use that feeling as a means to drive me to do the best I can do every day.  That a loss is only a loss if we don’t learn something from it and most importantly that the score is not reflective of their performance.  Because I saw kids that were softer than baby poo at the beginning of the season that would take any little injury as a means to get out and flip it to find a way to continue on.  Sport is important to me, like it is to the other 6 coaches that are Carson Graham alumni.  We see value in it that parents, teachers and others may not fully understand.  I saw a room of 30 kids and coaches cry.  Share emotion that would be laughed at normally because the only time it is acceptable for a man to cry is when they watch Old Yeller. 

I was fortunate enough to spend some professional development time in the U.S. last month and the one thing that caught my eye was a poster that was in every coach’s office.  It read “THE ‘IT’, TO CAPTURE THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF OUR PLAYERS”.  I feel like we encapsulated that this weekend.  We helped give an opportunity to kids from all walks of life achieve something great even though they didn’t win their final game. 

I know there are plenty of great articles that preach the importance of sport from a physical standpoint or from the standpoint of an employer when looking to make a hire.  But to me, it goes way further than that.  You have ex-players, coaches, friends and family coming to support something special.  The head coach that retired after I graduated made the trip over from the island to support the boys, as did numerous ex-players and supporters.  It is a mixed bag of emotions for all, but if it brings that many people together for a common goal, it has to be good doesn’t it? 

Anywho, to end this rant. Put your kids in sport to help them learn some valuable lessons that can’t be learned from the google.

Yours in Strength,

Joe McCullum



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