The lessons learned in athletics

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2018

There’s a laundry list of reasons why the youth of Beaufort County is encouraged to get involved in sports from a young age. For one, they promote a healthy, active lifestyle. They also help build friendships, which are especially important in developmental years.

Sports are fun and promote mental and physical wellbeing. There are also plenty of life lessons taught on fields and courts that young athletes will take with them throughout the rest of their lives.

One of the key lessons taught from the youth levels all the way to high school is the importance of sportsmanship. Competitive drive is central to all athletics. There is a line, though, that is important to acknowledge. Focusing on winning shouldn’t get in the way of polite humbleness.

It’s sad — even borderline embarrassing — when sportsmanship is cast away. Unfortunately, that happened during Wednesday’s basketball game at Southside. The Seahawks were hosting conference opponent Tarboro. During the varsity boys’ game, the visitors led by 30 points with less than two minutes to go.

Instead of letting his bench players see some action late in the game, Tarboro’s coach opted to put his starters back on the court for the final minute or so. Southside coach Sean White took exception to that, and rightfully so. He instructed his players to hold on to the ball, not move and let the clock run out.

Tarboro’s coach gave his reasoning for the switch. He said he wanted his starters to pass the ball around until the end of the game. Maybe he actually wanted to pad their stats a bit more. If that’s the case, character assessments are as important in recruiting as stats are.

Regardless of the motive, it came off as disrespectful. Sportsmanship has its place on the court, but what it instills in young athletes is the importance of respect. That’s just one of many teachings applicable well after high-school careers come to an end.