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UNDER THE SUN

A sticky situation

Doug Crowl

— My jaw dropped when I saw a Fox Denver news story on the Loveland High School Indians football team being in trouble.

For those who don’t know, a couple weeks ago the Indian players sprayed Pam cooking spray on their uniforms before playing Greeley West High School so they would be more difficult to tackle. Loveland, which was the 5A football champion last year, was reported to state athletic officials and the head coach and the assistant coach admitted to knowing about it and were suspended for the rest of the year.

The Fox News report on the story was glamorized, complete with footage of the high school kids practicing, an interview with an angry parent and the report being given from Loveland’s Ray Patterson field.

The story also made national news and rumor has it in Loveland that a news agency from Japan also inquired about the story.

I have an inside take on the Pam incident. I graduated from Loveland High School and played on the football team 10 years ago. Both of the coaches who were suspended coached me.

Loveland High School football was good to me. It created some great memories, kept me on the straight and narrow and helped me learn some life lessons. It also was the first serious, disciplined and intense experience I had. Loveland High football is huge, to say the least. In other words, it is the win, win, win, mentality.

In the 10 years of playing youth athletics in Loveland and the two years of covering it in Steamboat Springs, I’ve seen some disappointing behavior from adults because of the win mentality from my baseball coach being arrested for attempted assault at a game when I was 13, to parents fist fighting with coaches after high school football games.

But thanks to my parents pointing out the reality in all those situations and not shielding me from them, all those experiences ended up to be positive. They were examples of what is not acceptable.

What is often overlooked in youth sports, especially in high school, is that winning or losing is completely absurd and meaningless in the long run.

Not to say the win mentality is bad. An emphasis on winning and competitiveness simulates a real-life situation, which cultivates peak performance from individuals and quick, sharp decision- making skills. However, it never should supercede honesty and integrity, and a loss or bad performance in a game should never be dwelled upon. In fact, it’s good for a youth to feel the sting of defeat and failure in high school athletics, so when failure comes around in real life, they will have some understanding of it.

This is what high school athletics is for and many times it is forgotten or plain not considered when it comes to a game by parents, coaches and the media. Someone out of those three elements in youth sports, preferably the parents, needs to recognize the bottom line: it’s a meaningless game in the scheme of life that never justifies acting dishonestly.

For whatever reason, the Loveland High School football organization lost that perspective.


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