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The Press Box for January 8

By Staff | Jan 8, 2020

It was great to see the large turnout at Magnolia High School last week when they hosted the Silver Knights in Boys and Girls basketball. It was difficult finding a place to park, but it was worth a little walk to see so many faces instead of a half empty gym.

I can remember many times over the years when it was hard to get a seat and often people would get turned away because the gym was at capacity. I enjoyed how hard the kids played, it wasn’t pretty by any means, however it was a good effort from both teams.

It’s no secret that kids today struggle with sports burnout. Many are playing multiple sports and are pushed to the limit with year round play causing them to lose the passion they might have once had, that however was not the case at this game as the athletes and everyone in attendance seemed to have high energy.

I’ve seen lots of basketball games in my time and this one was not near the top of the list for most entertaining, but it was fun to watch. When athletes push themselves hard and go all out it turns what could have been a negative into a positive. Normally, if I attend a game and it’s not very well played, I leave. On this night I was glued to my seat till the end.

I like watching games where local teams play against each other, they remind me of some of the big games in the past when every conversation at the gas station, local watering hole, at the restaurant and at work centered around the big games. A lot of friendly wagering went on and most everyone knew the names of every kid on the teams.

At the Magnolia and Silver Knight game there were kids that I didn’t know and most everyone I talked to didn’t either. Now that wasn’t the case back in the days of the Sistersville., Paden City, Tyler High School and Magnolia rivalries.

Finding a place to stand back then was difficult even at the football games. The old Sistersville gym with the balcony was unique and if you managed to get a place up there you had a great view. There wasn’t much seating at old Tyler High but they always seemed to fit everyone in. Some of those old games brought out the best in the athletes as they looked ahead from year to year just waiting for the opportunity to take part in the big game. I understand we live in a different time and the importance of representing your school and community isn’t top priority in most athletes life, but it sure is great to see some school spirit and fan appreciation.

One of the big changes that has taken place has been the addition of multiple sports. I believe it’s great to have more opportunities, but I also believe it has become a problem when good athletes shy away from being multiple-sport athletes to concentrate on single sport athletes.

There isn’t an easy answer to the problem. There are many opinions on the issue and every athlete is different; the simple answer is it depends.

My take is, if our school athletes would take part in multiple sports they would do a better service to the community and school they attend. There is no explanation as to why athletes have narrowed down to one sport, except they believe somehow they are going to be a star at another level. However it could be they just play the one sport they like. Or it could be influence from mom and dad or from coaches. Who knows?

The problem remains that in small high schools it is difficult to get enough kids to play, so it takes a concerted effort on everyone’s part. I see there is a lot of interest, and many people are working with the younger kids in the area, trying to build programs so our teams can stay competitive.

My belief is that the experiences gained from being on various sports teams are essential for quality athletes.

I just think that the cross-training, the different types of coaching, the different types of locker rooms, the different environments that you practice in, the different challenges, I think it develops a much more competitive, well-rounded type person.

People think that athletes need to put all of their eggs into one basket to ensure their chances of being good at one particular sport. But that isn’t always the best plan of action.

Typically athletes who participate in multiple sports have the ability to develop skills that complement other sports. For example, if a football player runs track or plays basketball, he will improve his footwork and hand-eye coordination. Although footwork and hand-eye coordination are not the same, understanding how to use those body parts makes it easier for athletes to improve in all sports.

There’s no right or wrong way of being an athlete, everyone’s situation is different. It all just depends on what an athlete wants to do. Do they want to spend all of their time focusing on one sport or split up their time between multiple sports? However, earlier we stated that college coaches tend to recruit or want multiple sport athletes. So, if you want to be a college athlete or you want your son or daughter to play in college then maybe it’s a good thing to think about, especially before an athlete starts the recruiting process.

I always thought I was going to be an astronaut or airplane pilot. No one knows what they want to be as a child, and parents forcing their kids to specialize in one sport is really limiting their options. The more options someone has in life, the better off they are.

We are now in the middle of the winter sports season and it won’t be long until spring sports arrive. Keep that in mind when deciding whether you want to help your school on the track, baseball or softball teams. You only get the chance once, why not take advantage of it. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com