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By Staff | Jan 23, 2019

Local sports forecasts for 2019 haven’t been the most glowing, and that has plenty of people worried we may be in the middle of a sports recession. Check out the forecast, seems to be a weak outlook. What does that mean to you personally, and how can we overcome it? For sure, there will be many new faces on the sports scene, next year.

The Mountaineers have filled the head football coach position quickly. Many assistants are being named. Don’t expect a fast recovery! Are you the kind of person who can ride out a down market without losing a wink of sleep, confident that a rebound will happen eventually? Or will you be stressed out and panic, when the losing starts?

It is true that we are in the early stages of the current cycle, but the debate is about whether we are just in the midst of a sports slowdown or an all-out recession. Everything from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mountaineer football, and the WVU Basketball program – and many of our local high school teams – are contributing to the recession.

I saw a social media post in which a fan posed the question: “Is it time for Coach Huggins to go?” I also heard idle talk in a local gathering place last week: “He needs to go; after all, he recruited these guys.” That’s very similar to how you handle an economic recession: Do you ride it out or change portfolios?

See, you can’t be judged by one bad performance. You can’t be judged by how poorly a team performs. For the most part, it comes over a period of time, and a chance is given for recovery. That’s the way I see Coach Huggins’ case. He has proven he is a winner, and the bet should be that he’ll rebound. He’s been taking the heat from the sideline coaches all year. Getting too old, people say; or, they criticize he lost his team, doesn’t use this guy or that guy, and it goes on and on.

Yet the guy keeps coaching hard. He keeps making changes.

He keeps instructing, and he keeps finding answers. I agree the Mountaineers haven’t looked like some of the teams of recent years, but I believe Coach Huggins knows what he’s doing, and before the year is over, he’ll have some big wins.

Each case has to be evaluated on its own merits. You take a coach who has been unsuccessful for most of his tenure, and you see no signs of improvement. Then you realize there’s a need for a change.

For those worried about what the coming months might bring, this might be a good time to make adjustments. Some of it comes down to choices. Who’s available? Who applies?

In potentially bad times, take a deep breath. People often let emotions, rather than facts, drive their decisions. People often panic if they fear a recession, and they make changes that cause what would have been a temporary loss, a permanent loss. Other investors are ruled by a different emotion – greed – and take chances that they probably shouldn’t.

Think long-term. Both recessions and recoveries come and go, so it’s always good to keep in mind that old phrase: “This too shall pass.” If you stay focused on the long-term, rather than the moment, you may be able to avoid costly mistakes. This is especially true at the professional and college level, but at the high school level, parents aren’t so patient. They don’t want to continue on the downside even for a few years, let alone the long term.

High school sports is an entirely different investment. Parents and fans want to win for their kids. Fans of professional and college sports want to win for ego. Having a high tolerance for risk is one thing. Gambling away your future is quite another. So, before the recession turns into a depression, examine ways we can reduce at least some of the risk. I have found out over the years that most schools have their ups and downs.

You want to be a winner? You have to have someone who’s willing to put in the time to turn things around, someone who has the knowledge to do so and is not afraid to take control, regardless of the consequences. You need someone who can relate to the athletes and make them work for a goal. Set the standards high, and teach them how to get it done.

Coaching is more than just a title; it’s more than wanting a paycheck or retirement benefits. Coaching is setting goals and helping individuals or teams achieve them. It can only be accomplished through hard work, dedication, time, knowledge of your field of coaching, and motivation of your participants.

I took in the entire Boggs Roundball Classic this past weekend. Yes, they had a great hospitality room on Saturday, and yes, I ate too much. However, the best part was watching eight quality high school basketball games. The Silver Knights’ boys, led by senior ace Griffin Phillips, outclassed the field and captured the championship. Magnolia’s girls used their height and skill to rock the boat on their way to winning the girls division, in what may have been the best game of the tournament. They paired up against another top class A girls team, in the title game, and took down the Morgantown Trinity team behind a great team effort. Congratulations to both teams and to Tyler Consolidated High School and the Boggs family on its 20th year of putting on the event.

By the way, while at the game Saturday afternoon, a lot of talk was how bad the Mountaineers would lose to number seven Kansas. Well, there we have it! Huggins and company came through again with a game-winning shot to get the upset. No! I don’t think it’s time for Coach Huggins to go anywhere.

There are many schools which have athletes more skilled than others and lose to those schools. The problem, as I see it, is losing to those schools which are better prepared. That’s the way the money game is played, and that is why we are in a sports recession throughout the local area. If you can figure this all out, you are smarter than me. Which isn’t saying much. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com