Pam Pack shined as good example in tough year for sports

Published 3:31 pm Saturday, January 3, 2015

It’s easy to point at cases like the academic scandal surrounding UNC athletics and say that society’s emphasis on sports is out of order, that focus is too often placed on winning at all costs.

Reports that academic fraud permeated the university’s athletics department for decades were certainly alarming.

UNC wasn’t alone in facing public scrutiny over its handling of student athletes.

Controversy also surrounded Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston.

The apparent lack of consequences for the Heisman trophy winner’s off-the-field behavior did little to inspire faith in the national culture surrounding school sports.

Then there was the massive brawl at the end of the Miami Beach Bowl between BYU and Memphis.

No question, the public image of the student athlete took some serious blows in 2014.

But with plenty of reminders about how we can sometimes take sports too far, let’s not forget about how far sports can sometimes take us.

While they’re often not as captivating as the scandals, not as lingering as the improprieties, there are still plenty of good examples — and many of them here between our county lines.

Consider the Washington Pam Pack’s historic run to compete for a high school football state championship.

Few things have pulled local people together the way the boys in blue did this year. Those who didn’t witness the community-building first hand might dismiss Pam Pack football as “just a game.” But it was so much more this magical season.

As national headlines focused on communities ripped apart, it was refreshing to see ours pull together — even if it was inspired by something as simple as high school football.

The Pam Pack football team has much to celebrate for what it accomplished between the sidelines this year. I hope those involved with the program realize the impact they had off it, as well. That’s something the entire community should be proud of.

 Ashley Vansant is publisher of the Washington Daily News. He can be reached at