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Press Box

By Staff | Sep 21, 2016

I love sports, plain and simple.

Even though I have my favorites, I can watch almost any sporting event with contentment (although pro sports are no longer on the agenda).

However, I’m by no means a sports nut. In fact, I know very little when it comes to rosters, team history and even conference members. What I do know are the rules, strategies and a good athlete when I see one. Recently, the Olympics had my attention, great athletes everywhere. It was great to see the Mountaineers’ represent us so well as they battled against the best athletes in the world. As great as those games were, it’s just as exciting to me to watch our local athletes compete against the best in the state.

And yes folks, we have some very good athletes in this area and for that matter, we have even greater kids. It amazes me when I watch a volleyball player jump a foot higher than the net and slam the ball to the floor with enough force to hurt someone – yet the defense with reflexes that I could only dream about, dives on the hardwood and returns the slam. It really is something to watch!

I’m amazed when I see a soccer player move the ball with footwork that in all reality should trip him up, and then kick it to the net for a score. When a player returns the kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown or someone causes a fumble which saves the game, it shows just how hard they have trained and the effort they put forth finally pays off.

I love watching little schools like Paden City, which hardly has enough to field a team yet each week they reach down deep inside themselves and come out to compete. With under-sized kids and low in numbers, it’s games like this past week that make it all worthwhile. Not a win, but there is a sense of accomplishment.

But the thing I love most is how sports bring people together – at least in America – because I don’t follow sporting events overseas (except in the Olympics).

Yes, sometimes animosity can arise between overzealous fans or players. Coaches can go overboard with their antics. But in general, there is a healthy competitive nature encompassed by a sense of camaraderie.

I can only speak for the teams I have witnessed.

I’m sure other teams I don’t follow do amazing things as well, but this weekend at the volleyball, soccer and football games I attended, amazing things did happen. Both local schools proved to be just what they are “great schools” who got some big wins, the Silver Knights and Wildcats’ volleyball teams are both playing at a high level. Tyler’s boys soccer team is on a roll and continue to improve with pressure defense and good play making, so they are starting to turn heads. The Knights’ football program is among the state’s best; there’s a lot to be excited about.

Yes, they had a let down this week, but don’t count them out. They are a tough dedicated bunch and coach Walton and staff will get to work and have them ready for the next big game. Stay with them folks – there’s a lot of football left to play.

When other area schools come to these two gyms or fields, they are treated with respect. Sure, there will be an occasional flare up, but the administration is always there to quell any problems. Tyler Consolidated and Paden City fans are among the best in the state.

It is a tradition after Tyler football games to feed both teams and coaches, plus cheerleaders and bus drivers. It’s things like these that make me love sports.

I know there are more instances outside of my limited experience and teams, but we do have two of the best boosters clubs around, some of the best volunteers and the most dedicated fans. They work hard to provide the extras for the schools and athletes.

But the camaraderie behind sporting events doesn’t even have to be about good deeds and notions like these. You can go anywhere in the nation, and if you are wearing your team’s logo, you are sure to strike up a conversation with other sports fans. It serves as a common ground for people from different states, ethnicities, religions or whatever, to connect on.

Regardless of how different someone might be, a Silver Knights’ fan will always be a Silver Knights fan, a Wildcat fan will always be a Wildcat fan, a Mountaineer fan will always make a joke of a big 12 fan, and vice versa. Though this may be seen as negative (and a few fans can certainly make it so) in my experience of such interactions, it has always concluded in a sportful jest.

Sports can bring out the worst in us when we let our emotions and competitive nature take over, although that is the exception rather than the norm. However, I stand firmly by the point that sporting events bring us together to enjoy and experience a single spectacle in unity. When one team suffers an injury, the other will always be there to help them out, and of course, continue the game with them.

With lots of sports left in this young school year, let’s make each game an event for all to enjoy. Nothing is better for a school or an athlete than walking into a gym or onto a field and seeing the place filled with high spirited fans waiting to cheer on their favorite team or player. Take a trip sometime to a major college football game and the excitement fills the air. I’m enthusiastic about people having a good time getting together to tailgate and take in some of the best sports in the world today, bar none! I truly love high school sports, but nothing compares to the atmosphere of major college football.

I strongly encourage everyone to take in a good old fashioned high school sports event and if you can make a college game or two.