There’s been much media attention given to a boys basketball game in another state that turned into a brawl led by adult fans and resulted in suspension of both schools’ seasons and dismissal of both schools’ teams from the state basketball tournament.
From a thousand miles away, I can’t comment on who’s at fault or whether the penalty fits the crime. However, I shout a hearty “Amen!” to what that state’s high school association executive director had to say, according to one of the state’s major newspapers.
“We have too many people putting too much emphasis on winning, or on the wrong definition of winning. Their definition of winning is on the scoreboard only. It’s become a very big problem, and it’s not the (state association’s) definition of winning.”
He continued, “Sportsmanship has been eroded. We’re supposed to be teaching ethics, integrity and character to these kids ...”
The biggest challenge we face in school sports administration across the country is communicating amidst the clutter of contradictory messages that the definition of winning – the meaning of success – is very different in student-centered, school-sponsored competitive athletics than in most other popular brands of sports.
This is educational athletics. It’s about learning far, far more than about winning, which is an important goal but nowhere near the highest objective in interscholastic athletics.
If we lose this perspective, all is lost.