Playing with dignity

Published 6:35 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fall sports are ramping up in Beaufort County. Football started up last Friday while volleyball, soccer, cross country and others began their campaigns, too. College football is also right around the corner as East Carolina is set to open the season a week from Saturday.

Sometimes, in the heat of competition, it’s hard to remember what’s most important. Wins and losses matter, as each team at each level is ultimately fighting for championships, but that’s not exactly the most significant thing on the line whenever a team takes the field or court.

Sportsmanship and dignity are vital to competition, especially at the high school level. Even though adrenaline is pumping, players must be cognizant of those opposite them. After all, under those uniforms, they’re still people, too.

Northside and Creswell provided a perfect example of this during their matchup on the gridiron this past Friday night. The Panthers started off their season with a dominant 47-0 win against an undermanned Tigers squad. There were few things that went Creswell’s way during the game, but the players kept their heads up throughout.

Both sides showed good sportsmanship throughout, too. Most of Northside’s impact players were on the bench by halftime so as not to run up the score. For the Tigers, they played valiantly for four quarters, even as they struggled to stop the Panthers and came up short of the end zone time and again.

When the dust settled and Northside claimed a win in its first game of the season, the two teams met at midfield for a customary handshake. Most of Creswell’s players were congratulatory. The Panthers complimented their opponent on a game well played, too.

There’s more to sports — of all kinds, not just football — than the result. Athletes at this level are learning more than just competing. They’re learning skills that, down the road, will help make them well-rounded adults.

Among those skills are sportsmanship and dignity. Local athletes are off to a good start on that front.