More than winning

Published 4:30 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mike and I have been taking in some high school football this season since he drives a school bus, and some of the players ride it. It doesn’t take much arm-twisting for me to get out and among the crowd. There is something contagious about a throng of people cheering on their favorite team, and it takes me back to the times I supported my two sons in their brief football careers. It always seemed that the other players were beasts compared to my boys, and each time they took the field I almost cringed. Thankfully, with the exception of a few bumps and bruises they escaped any real injury.

Even now, my mother’s heart skips a beat if a player from either team is down for longer than a minute or two. The team we are following is young and not expected to have a very successful season as far as the scoreboard is concerned, but I’m sure many life lessons will be learned whether they have a winning season or not.

Actually, I’ve always secretly cheered for the underdog. I love reading or hearing about a comeback kid or adult for that matter, you know those people who just keep on trying to do their best even when the odds are against them. So I plan on cheering this little team on, in victory or defeat. If the young men on the team learn how to accept defeat gracefully and with character without despairing or giving up the fight that will be a tremendous outcome.

The first game was so hot I thought I would have to leave before halftime, but I made it, and the air cooled a bit when the sun retreated behind the bleachers. The young men on the field were dwarfed in the shadow of the opposing team’s grizzly giants who took the field, but they struggled valiantly until the bitter end. And bitter it was, as they lost by several touchdowns.

Back in the day when I was in high school and cheering my team on with the pep squad in our cute little outfits it was considered bad sportsmanship to keep the first string in and run up the scoreboard until the losing team was humiliated. In my opinion, something is amiss when the winning team does this. I understand the rankings now depend on not only wins and losses, but the spread, and this encourages teams to keep the starters in.

Why do adults who make the rules not remember that consideration, kindness, and humility, as well as winning, are important? Those second and third string kids are itching to get some playtime, and their parents and grands are in the stands waiting for their little Johnnies to take the field. I’m not one of those who thinks everyone should get a trophy whether they win or not, but to run another team in the ground on the high school field is just another sign of the times, and in my opinion, not a very good one.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at