Goodman Shaffer: Taking the good with the bad in sports in 2013

The New Year’s celebration is traditionally a time to look back at the last 365 days, evaluating our successes and failures; and looking ahead to the future, setting goals and making plans for the days to come.

It seems particularly appropriate in the world of sports. Imagine the time spent among coaches and teams across all types of athletics and all levels of ability watching film, taking notes, setting objectives and formulating strategies for what they hope is success. They practice the “New Year’s” ritual day in and day out.

In some ways, it is good to see 2013 go; many of the major national sports stories this year were not just negative but tragic, like the Boston Marathon bombing, murder charges against New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez and Olympian Oscar Pistorius, and the horrible injury to Louisville basketball star Kevin Ware.

Then there were the disappointments, like the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, Major League Baseball’s suspensions for performance enhancing substances (and no one elected to the Hall of Fame) and the bizarre blackout at the Super Bowl.

But 2013 also revealed the good in sport, like the city of Boston celebrating the World Series while still recovering from the Marathon attack, and the way Kevin Ware inspired his team in dealing with his shocking setback.

These are the kinds of stories that are repeated and re-hashed over and over during the national news cycles, and then remembered again in year-end montages. Locally, there has been much more good news: championships, all-stars, charity games and so much more, expertly chronicled in the pages of the Mirror.

And then there are the moments in sport that don’t necessarily garner media attention, but for local athletes may be the most significant of all.

Only a small fraction of amateur athletes advance to the ranks of professionals; far more players are average rather than extraordinary; but that doesn’t diminish the value of participating.

Perhaps some of the most cherished experiences for local athletes are those small, seemingly insignificant moments: practices and conditioning with friends, pregame meals, halftime chalk talks, bus-ride bonding, and all of those important lessons learned along the way. It’s the memories made by connecting with teammates and coaches, and discovering the values revealed through sport.

These moments won’t make the cover of Sports Illustrated, but they will benefit young athletes well beyond their sports seasons, and hopefully beyond 2013.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

That is a wish for our local athletes, coaches, officials, support staff, parents and spectators: that every day of 2014 is better than the last, as we treasure the newsworthy accomplishments, but also the small, memorable moments that make sports special. Happy New Year!

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Her column appears on Tuesdays.