In response to the recent letter in the Sunday Mailbag, "Reward all teams [July 6]," the writer indicated she was upset with the Claysburg baseball program because they failed to give trophies or medals to every participant in her son's league rather than just the winners.
I agree with her in part - that being the part where each player should have their participation and achievements recognized. But giving each player a trophy not only lessens the accomplishment of the winners, it falsely impresses upon the kids that win or lose, they should still get rewards.
That's not what sports are like, and that's certainly not what life is like. A policy like that leads kids to grow up with the feeling that they are owed something no matter how things turn out. And we see too much of that in today's society. Sports are about competition. If it didn't matter who won, they wouldn't bother to keep score.
Participation on the field of athletics prepares one for participation on the field of life. You learn that those who work hardest are usually (but not always) rewarded with the wins and the trophies. But you also learn that sports (and life) are often not fair. Sometimes you deserve the victory (or the loss), and sometimes you don't.
But usually it's the best and hardest-working teams who come out on top. There is going to be a loser in every game that's played, and kids have to learn how to lose as well as how to win. Every kid who tries his best is a winner. And there's no shame in failing - only in failing to try.
It's only been recently that the trend has come about where we are so afraid we'll hurt a few feelings that we have to give everybody something. Sometime in their lives these kids will be slapped in the face with the reality that they have to work hard and earn what they get. Why not ease them into that on the athletic fields when they're young, and the stakes aren't quite so high?
Everyone enjoys "the thrill of victory," but kids need to learn how to deal with "the agony of defeat" as well. That's just a part of growing up. And sports will help them with that better than anything else I know of.
Ellis 'one of finest'
I am not fortunate enough to call Jim Ellis a close friend.
I am lucky enough to call him a friend and a coaching colleague. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to watch Jim work with players from high school to college. While never a head coach - what were these schools thinking? - Jim was one of the finest basketball coaches I have ever seen.
Jim was knowledgeable, organized, diligent and imaginative. Unlike the one-on-one coaches that are now prevalent, Jim's passion was not the money but the game.
He coached for his players and the love of the game. He was the best big-man coach in the area, and unlike some coaches, he never let his ego get in the way of teaching his players with respect. Instead of yelling and embarrassing his players, he challenged and taught them.
He shielded his players by taking criticism in his self depreciating manner.
No, I was not fortunate enough to be a close friend, but I also knew I could count on him if I needed his help. This area has lost a man of compassion, humor, intelligence and most of all integrity.
I consider Jim Ellis one of the finest coaches and most importantly, men I have known.
Local league needs sanction
I think it's a shame that this area's premier women's summer basketball league at the Hollidaysburg Area YMCA is no longer an NCAA-sanctioned organization, which prevents all Division I players (minus incoming freshmen) from playing in the league unless they want to lose their scholarships.
Apparently, the NCAA has changed, at the last minute, some of its requirements to keep a league sanctioned, such as demanding health insurance costs for each player. The YMCA claims it did not have enough warning - 10 days - to comply with the new rules.
I have been playing in and watching that league as long as I can remember, and it has been sanctioned every year for at least the last decade, probably longer.
By not complying with the NCAA's new rules this year, the league lost some of its best competition and, if not re-sanctioned next year, it will continue to steadily lose some of its following, some of its prestige, and some of its athletes - all of whom have grown to love the league and look forward to it every summer for fun and improvement.
Here's hoping the dedicated people behind the Y league can work together with the NCAA in the future to make sure that the organization's most fun and competitive summers still lie ahead.