Last Modified: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 5:11 PM
Tonight and tomorrow evening mark the opening of the high school regular football season around the state.
It is a time filled with excitement, adrenalin rushes, pomp, pageantry and hopefully good cheers.
In many ways, though, high school athletics is not just ordinary extra-curricular event. It can and should be an extension of the classroom, a veritable working laboratory where lessons such as the benefits of hard work and dedication, reaching for a goal, teamwork, tenacity, focus, discipline, humility, respect, ethics and proper conduct are emphasized and reinforced not only for the players, but the cheerleaders, band members, pep squad and student body.
For the players themselves, how to shuck a blocker or run a down-and-out route will likely not serve them once they graduate. But those intangibles absorbed from athletics will likely buoy them for the rest of their lives.
Exemplary sportsmanship should be a goal of everyone involved. It starts with members of the coaching staff and the school’s administration. They set the standard and have the power to reward commendable behavior and punish unacceptable deportment.
Their examples filter down through the rest of the student body and set the tone for what happens in the stands.
Parents and adult fans also have a responsibility. They, too, can influence the atmosphere in a positive or negative way.
Those on the field, on the sidelines and in the seats should remember that the officials in charge of enforcing the rules have studied them for years. They are trained to know the rules pertaining to high school football and will not confuse them as some of the stands may be wont to do with the subtle differences that govern college and pro football.
Yes, those in the striped shirts are compensated, but often times not enough for the hours they put in to prepare to call a game nor the undeserved abuse they take.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association defines sportsmanship as citizenship in action, an encompassing of all that is good in human nature.
It is, according to the LHSAA, the ‘‘concrete measure of understanding and commitment to fair play, ethical behavior and integrity.’’
By all means, cheer for your team, your school and the players and coaches.
But be a good sport about it. That means respecting the opponent.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.