The Press Box For Sept. 12
Years ago, some amateur psychologists interviewed Olympic medalists in several different sports. They were very surprised to discover that most of the bronze medalists are much happier than the silver medalists. We all know very well that silver medalists are the second placers, whereas, the Bronze medalists are the third placers, lower than the silver medalists. But these amateur psychologists can explain their find rationally. The bronze medalists are happy because they won their last match, while the silver medalists lost in their last match.
I don’t know if that is true or not; it doesn’t even work that way most of the time. I know at state high school tournaments and track meets, an athlete is always happier to finish runner-up than to come in third. It’s always like that; first is best, and second is next. I would rather come in second any day than third. However, some athletes are satisfied just to finish a race or just to be on a team. I thought about these interviews, and my first thought was “What a waste of time and money.” My second thought was worse than my first and my third thought was, “It doesn’t make any difference.”
I slumped on my couch in front of my newly purchased (on installment) LCD flat screen TV and watched ESPN sports most of the weekend. I watched a fishing tournament, and the first place prize was way better than the second. The third and fourth didn’t receive anything. I watched a golf tournament, and the prize money was much better for second (silver) than third (bronze).
There was plenty of college football to watch, and each team was out to win. No seconds or thirds.
Every year I watch high school volleyball; there are several great tournaments. Not once have I seen a team happy to come in third. The goal is always to make the finals. That takes me to my point! If you’re going to play, play to win. Give it your all. Be competitive. Never give up, and fight to the finish. As the old saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
I was very proud of the Paden City Wildcats’ football on Friday night against Van High School. The Wildcats now stand 0-3 on the season, and I guarantee you they are not satisfied with their record or Friday’s second place finish; however, they can stand tall and proud knowing they fought hard to the end. Paden City expected better results this season but as everyone remembers, Coach Croasmun warned at the beginning “If we stay healthy we have a chance to be a pretty good ball club.” That didn’t happen, the Wildcats were without three or four starting lineman, including one who looks to be gone the rest of the season. They also was without the services of quarterback Alex McCoy in the first half with a shoulder problem. He did take some snaps in the second half though. Three or four other boys came out of the game with minor injuries, so being outmanned and outsized from the start didn’t help things.
Losing does not make you a loser. Giving up and quitting does, but that’s something I didn’t see on Friday. The smaller, outnumbered Wildcats continued to battle to the end. The Wildcats tacked on two fourth quarter touchdowns after the game had been settled 40-0 but it was still nice to see the home town guys get a couple scores. It shows they never quit. If there had been four teams playing, the Wildcats would not have been happy with third, nor would most other teams. The goal is always to win, but second is always better than third.
Back in the old days, the only teams to make the high school football playoffs were the top two teams in each class. There were more single A teams back then, so the goal of getting in the playoffs was slim to none. But if you did it was a huge accomplishment, and there was no third place finish. It was win or lose, first or second. Later they went to a four-team playoff, then an eight-team playoff, and finally an expanded 16 team playoff system.
I still like the old way better. I think it made better competition; there was more excitement. There weren’t any goals of making the top 16. A point system decided the top two teams in each class, and every team that wasn’t in the running was out to upset the ones that were. Larger crowds attended the games. Everyone looked forward to Friday nights. Even when your team was losing, there was always a chance to beat a good team and come in first on that night.
Although the Wildcats came out on the short end on Friday, I was not disappointed. I watched as the coaches worked hard. I saw young high school kids playing their hearts out, some playing hurt, for their school and community. It made me proud when the Wildcat band played the school fight song. While I was not disappointed with the game, I was disappointed in the crowd. I thought about all kinds of things, but what I thought about the most was, “Where are they? “
No wonder the team has been, and still is, struggling for wins. There is little support! Oh, there is support from parents but very little community support. Not long ago the town rallied around the high school. There was a danger of losing the center piece of the community, so nearly everyone came out to support the continuation of Paden City High. Much of that was a show, it didn’t last long. The Wildcats have a nice volleyball team this year and no seniors, they are winning, and the gym is still not packed. At high school games the school is barely making enough to pay the referees. One girl’s basketball game last season had 34 people in the gym, not counting coaches and players. On Thursday, Sept. 6, in a volleyball match with Clay-Battelle the high school team played extremely well. It was a delight to watch as nearly every girl on the team made a contribution. Clay-Battelle was not a bad team by any means but Paden City overwelmed them. 41 people were in the gym, not counting coaches and players. And that includes fans from both teams. Paden City has some good athletes and some good coaches, but they will never have real success without community support. How well do you think the WVU Mountaineers would do every week without fan support? I thought about some other things: The question was brought up the other day about Paden City not having a good hometown restaurant or a fast food place. One guy had the right answer! Why would anyone invest in something no one would support?
An individual came in the office the other day, and it just happens their son has the same name as another boy in town. The only difference is there is an “s” on the end of the last name. Instead of politely making us aware of it, it became a big deal – to them – as they came in angry and confrontational. See, it’s easy to fix mistakes like that, but what’s not easy to fix are the hard feelings the people carry around when a mistake is made. That is negative support. Those are the kind that only show up to watch their own, and the heck with the rest of them.
Positive support comes from people who are willing to help out behind the scenes, the ones who have nothing to gain – no kids playing, just an interest in seeing their team and community do well. They are the ones who are there through thick and thin. There are several of those but you can count them with both hands. I can name them all off to you. The others are the band wagon jumpers. It happens at all levels, but it’s more noticeable at the high school level. Support your local teams – all the time, not just when they’re winning. I am afraid this is happening in a lot of small communities across the state and it’s going to continue to get worse if something doesn’t happen to change the playing field.
Even with community support and everyone working together there will never be a chance for the small schools to compete for state championships, those days are over, unless the WVSSAC makes some changes in Classifications or seperate the private and public schools. I still believe we need a four Class System to equal things out. firstname.lastname@example.org