Lance Scranton: Reaching dreams means getting involved
Fall sports began in earnest this week as Moffat County High School student athletes hit the fields and courts in pursuit of the dreams we all had as kids. The highlight of most people’s high school career is usually a memory of some game that helped shape a particular attitude and paved the way for a brighter future. But, all across the country, participation rates are lower than expected, and some teams in our very own state have had to cancel scheduled games due to lack of participation.
It’s not an easy call to try and determine why kids aren’t playing sports, but as a parent, teacher, and coach, I have a few ideas:
• Fear: Some kids just aren’t cut out to be athletes and would rather not be put in situations where they are challenged or forced to come to grips with certain weaknesses that have never had to be dealt with at any level. Unfortunately they will also never know the absolute joy and satisfaction of working their hardest to try and overcome something and prove to themselves there are certain hurdles in life you just can’t step around but must face head on.
• Laziness: It’s no easy feat to get kids up and moving in a world that rewards them for sitting around and experiencing life with their thumbs and fingers on a controller or a keyboard. Existence lived through virtual means veers sharply away from entertainment when it becomes a consuming part of life at the expense of what our bodies and minds were designed for.
• Selfishness: Too often, kids tell themselves they are too busy or have too many other things to do that take priority over making a commitment to become part of a team. It’s easy to determine the kids who have difficulty doing anything that doesn’t directly affect them and tends toward helping others become better. Team sports have existed for years, because it was understood that service to others helped us become better human beings and made the lives of others more manageable. Teams generated a special type of bond that makes coaches and players alike promise to do whatever they can to help each other succeed.
• Parents: Sometimes, it’s just easier to let our children do as little as possible and for us to make excuses for the dependency that grows out of trying to protect our children from the slights and injuries that the world sometimes offers up. The world is not an easy place to navigate, and there are many things I wish I could keep my children from experiencing, but it’s our job as moms and dads to work ourselves out of the job of childrearing and help our children steer their way through the challenges of life.
Sports, and being involved in life, will have a lasting effect on children right up into their more mature years. If my dad hadn’t hauled me to a few hockey games when I was a kid, I might never have worked up the courage to learn how to play with others and would never have experienced the absolute joy of winning, the agony of defeat, and the realization that, without others in my life to help me — and for me to help — I wouldn’t be the kid who dreamed of becoming much more than I could ever have imagined.
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.