Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Chinstraps and Mouthpieces

Sports’ role in life needs to be kept in perspective

December 19, 2001

Life seems to revolve around sports.

Children are placed in various sports leagues when they turn 5, sometimes earlier. Some parents reminisce about how their teams were when they played; others follow their children intensely, hoping they'll be great athletes in an area the parents never explored.

Maybe the focus should shift slightly.

Wouldn't it be nice to see "Academics" as this page's flag just once? Game stories on Scholars' Bowl and debate would dominate the page. Analysis and predictions on how difficult a teacher's test would be could be seen in this section. Las Vegas' betting line would provide spreads for college debate tournaments and matches.

Students at the University of Kansas would camp outside the Lied Center hoping to be picked in the first lottery group for the debate match against Kansas State, a team with a national championship under its belt.

"I can't wait for that match," one student would say.

"Wait until Harvard comes to town," says another student. "This place will go crazy at that match."

What if employees at local businesses wished students luck on upcoming tests.

"Hey, I've been reading in the papers that that math test was gonna be a doozy," a downtown business owner would say. "Make sure you prepare all week."

What if the THS band had a performance against Basehor-Linwood's band? During pregame and at intermission, basketball teams would come out for a short exhibition.

Sure, this is beyond corny, but importance of sports sometimes overshadows everything else.

Tonganoxie's most storied tradition is its debate team. The Chieftains have state championships in two-speaker debate or four-speaker debate in each of the last four years. THS debaters will be competing in the National Catholic Forensics Tournament after qualifying in a tournament recently in Marysville. Seniors Sarah Melchoir and Melissa High, along with juniors Caleb Poterbin and Kelly Woelk will compete at the tournament in May in Pittsburgh. This marks the fifth time THS debaters have qualified for the national event.

Academics and nonathletic extracurricular activities don't receive the same attention as athletics. Sports shouldn't be ignored by any means, but everything has its place.

Athletics is in a select category. It's competitive and not everyone will play. The same could be said for academics, as not everyone receives scholarships.

But every person attending THS is a student, and not all can be student-athletes.

The issue of four seniors no longer practicing on the boys' basketball team is an example of this. The situation hasn't been easy for anyone involved, but life goes on. When nine seniors have to be on a 12-man roster, choices sometimes have to be made.

The school board discussed the idea of purchasing more uniforms so everyone can participate. Then, at the end of the season, the coach can decide which 12 will be on the Sub-state tournament team.

The school board also discussed the economic crunch that the country and education are facing. Members want to watch pennies at this crucial time, but spending money for extra uniforms is a possibility.

Jerseys might not put a major dent in the budget, but it involves sports, and once again sports is at center-stage.

It's been said that athletics, not just art, imitate life. Players have successes and failures, and they have to learn from both. Not everyone can attain that position in a company he or she wants. People adjust and move on.

Sports are popular. Aside from the weather, sports is probably the most discussed topic in any town.

It's also an important topic for me. If it weren't, I wouldn't be watching athletic events three to four nights a week.

But as everyone knows, there's more to life than sports.

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