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We are not all that and a bag of chips

January 1, 2010
By MIKE MATHISON, Sports editor

In the past year I have been kicked in the behind and patted on the back for what I write in this column.

I have had people say thank you in person and in e-mails and people tell me I am too hard on parents and too religious and, if they wanted to be preached at, that was held for their church on Sunday.

Seriously, I am just glad this column is being read.

I'm a big boy and can take the criticism.

After all, if I weren't criticized it means I am not doing my job.

I am here to write what I see and feel.

And, believe my, what I write is exactly what I convey to my daughter and son about life, sports, school and, in general, about being good kids.

Head coach Brian Costello and I also convey the same messages to the girls on the Jefferson County Christian basketball team.

We love them to death, but also make sure they understand the underlying messages to playing the game.

And, that is always showing a good testimony.

The girls play hard, keep their mouths shut toward the officials and show that God is more important than a basketball game.

But, they always want to win and hate to lose.

There is a right way and wrong way to do both.

If our kids do either one the wrong way, it's our fault and it's our job to make sure that never happens again.

There are high school basketball teams in the area that are anywhere from 7-0 to 0-7.

Each team has the same goal in mind, playing the best and hardest they can play the next time out.

Hard work does not guarantee wins.

Hard work reveals character.

It's not easy stepping on the hardwood knowing a whipping might be in store.

You can bemoan the fact that you're 0-7 or 1-5 or 2-3 or you can go out and work even harder.

You can light a life within your teammates, or you can curse the darkness at being 0-7.

You can only get better because of your teammates.

If you think you are all of that and better than your teammates, go ahead one day and play 1 on 5 and see who wins.

It won't be you.

You see, once they score, you have to take the ball in and you have no one to pass the ball to.


In fact, I would bet you never get the ball in each time after the five score.

So, regardless of how good you think you are, your teammates are a large reason for your success.

But, your success is minuscule in comparison to the success of the team.

I love sports for what it teaches.

It teaches kids how to be not just teammates, but good teammates.

It teaches kids how to sacrifice for one another.

It teaches kids the value of a team concept over an individual spotlight.

It teaches kids that teammates help everyone get better.

It teaches kids the team concept only works because individuals stop being selfish.

Coaches all over this Valley have seen kids who think they are bigger than the team.

Their work ethic becomes terrible.

Their attitude becomes even worse.

I have said many times before that if John Wooden was willing to kick Bill Walton off the UCLA basketball team for not following the team rules, and Walton was one of the five best collegiate players ever, then no athlete is untouchable.

Once an athlete thinks they become untouchable they become a negative influence and that is never good for the team or the locker room.

Negativity breeds negativity and that will soon begin to infiltrate other areas.

Whether it starts at home, in the classroom, at work or in the gym, those places are no longer fun to walk into because of the negative energy brought by one or more persons.

I listened to Big Red football coach Reno Saccoccia talk to a room full of parents and he said many things. But, the one that stuck out to me was rather simple, "Don't defend your kids."

The implication there was when your kids are wrong, do not defend them.

If you defend them when they are right and defend them when they are wrong, there is no line in the sand.

If a coach comes to you and says, "your kid is not doing this or that" your answer cannot be "well, he says he is" or "she says she always does what you say."

A coach does not want that conversation with you.

A coach never really wants to talk to you about what your child is not doing.

A coach would rather push your kid far beyond what your kid thought possible.

A teacher would rather push your kid far beyond what your kid thought possible.

A teacher does not want that conversation with you either.

Do coaches and teachers make mistakes? Yes.

And, when they make a big enough one that you feel deserves your attention, parents please go through the proper channels and do not confront the head football at a Saturday morning practice.

Please, parents, do not walk into the sixth grade math class and begin berating the teacher.

For the most part, kids are kids because we adults allow them to be that way.

I know that isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but it's pretty close.

Kids are far more resilient than we are.

They can bounce back from and off a lot of things.

What bothers me is there was some adult somewhere who watched a kid having a hard time learning to jump rope, pull the rope away from the kid and say, "let's do it without a rope and you won't fail."

What bothers me is there was some adult somewhere who watched the same kid get knocked out first in dodgeball and said, "no more dodgeball."

I found that some guy started the Physical Education Hall of Shame (not an actual building) and the following games, basically, he thinks should be banned: dodgeball; duck, duck, goose; messy backyard; kickball; musical chairs; relay races; steal the bacon; line soccer; red rover; simon says; spud and tag.

Just terrible.

Somewhere along the way, political correctness found its way into the sports world and the sports world has been living it down ever since.

Happy New Year!

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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