Sportsmanship should rule on field and in stands

Published 8:54 am Friday, October 16, 2015

The day of the Big Game has arrived. The tickets are sold out and school spirit is running high on both sides of Twin City Highway in Mid-County. It’s a rivalry like few others in the state, a fact in which supporters of both the Nederland Bulldogs and Port Neches-Groves Indians can take pride. With competitive spirit and emotions running high, it’s important to remember that the Bum Phillips Bowl and all of Mid-County Madness is about student athletes and friendly rivalry.

Everyone wants to win. But winning is not the most important thing in tonight’s contest, or in any high school athletic event. The reason schools use taxpayer dollars to field teams in football, volleyball, baseball, basketball and many other sports is that participating in such events teaches intangible traits such as sportsmanship, teamwork and leadership.

The glory of the winning touchdown will fade into memory as new Bum Phillips Bowls are played and students move on from high school into adult careers. But those character traits will remain for a lifetime with those student athletes who dedicate themselves to developing them. We expect our coaches to teach their student athletes to play hard and do their best, but to also play clean and respect the officials and the rules of the game. The coaches in Mid- and South County do a great job of preparing their athletes for the game, and also for later life. They understand that winning is important but it’s not the most important thing. Playing with heart and dignity takes the top spot.

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We encourage the fans on both sides of the field to remember that those larger-than-life players suited up in pads and helmets are actually teen-aged high school students. We encourage them to remember that the officials who referee the game give countless hours to student athletes for a small stipend and they deserve the respect of the players, coaches and fans, no matter the outcome of the game. We urge fans at all games to vocally support your team. Yell your support until you’re hoarse. But no matter how high emotions run, high school athletic events are not the place for booing officials or heckling opposing players.

Good luck to the Nederland Bulldogs, who have had possession of the Bum Phillips Bowl trophy since they won last year’s game. And good luck to the Port Neches-Groves Indians who will do their best to make sure the trophy spends the next year on The Reservation. Tonight is the night to let sportsmanship, teamwork and leadership shine.