I enjoy watching athletic events all year long and I find them to be a little bit like Christmas.
Sporting events are a natural occasion for participants and family spectators to enjoy special times together. It is also an enjoyable take for those of us on the outside looking in, to be able to witness this phenomenon.
Those special times are not necessarily celebrating victories but are always opportunities to watch character-building interactions that strike me as very important in the grand scheme of things.
Visit a game and you’ll see players comforted after losses by their parents. Few words are spoken but the athletes get the message – “Win or lose, we’re here for you.”
The very fact that parents attend athletic events involving their children is special. The younger the participants the more likely it is that a child will be looking into the crowd for his/her parents. Am I the only one who has seen a participating child wave to his family while a game is going on?
It is also nice to see the bonding that goes on within a team during a game and during a season. I have no doubt that coaches promote the idea of being supportive teammates.
When a team/teammate is struggling that support is taken to a higher level. I witnessed this at Georgetown High School on December 15th. GHS was playing talented Cathedral High of Brighton in a nonleague let’s-see-how-good-we-are boys’ basketball game. I went to see celebrated GHS sophomore Jaymie Spears play and decided to chart everything he did. Not long into the game, I realized that the talented 5-10 guard was living a nightmare in front of a large audience. By halftime, he had made just one of fourteen shots. Discouraged? You bet he was but during every stoppage of play, I saw teammates and coaches encouraging him. I wish I could say that things got better in the second half but they didn’t. He could only hit one of thirteen shots in the second half and his team ended up losing by a point. However, through it all, his teammates and coaches stayed positive. I came away believing that the support system in place on Coach Mike Rowinski’s Royals team will enable the young man to move on and that all involved have learned and displayed valuable life lessons in the process.
It doesn’t always happen but two of the area teams (Newburyport girls’ soccer and Amesbury football) rewarded their towns with the gift of their dreams – state championships.
NHS girls’ soccer is the epitome of a successful program. A well-run feeder system is in place and surely had plenty to do with winning a second straight state championship this season. Cape Ann League All-Stars will graduate but this has been a team that doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.
At Amesbury High School, the football program took a turn for the better when the current seniors were freshmen and had an undefeated season. Those freshmen moved on to the varsity the next season and were the nucleus of a team that wiped out Martha’s Vineyard and won Amesbury’s first Super Bowl ever.
For me the beauty of attending officiated local sports is that I never attend knowing the outcome in advance – kind of like unwrapping a Christmas present. Predictably, interesting things will unfold.
The only “danger” in attending a local sporting event is that one game may not be enough for you. Before long, you’re turning off the TV or computer and heading out to take in some real action on a regular basis.
(To be published in The Town Common on December 24th)