Purpose Over Pride

Karlie Mathias, Social Media Editor

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We, as students, are constantly reminded that sports and other competitive activities should be executed with positivity, respect, and honor. We are told that unsportsmanlike behavior will not be tolerated, and the atmosphere will only consist of encouraging cheers from the crowd and a light air of optimism from your fellow competitors. As an athlete, I have experienced the falsehood of these promises. Students have crossed the line of joking jibes into full-blown verbal abuse. With the addition of social media, opponents can send unkind words, mocking chants, and belittling posters across the state. Of course, it’s “just a joke” and “all in fun”, but eventually, the person on the other end of those “jokes” isn’t going to see it that way. If they had the courage to walk onto the stage, skate onto the ice, or run onto the field, they deserve more respect than you are giving them. Frankly, you no longer get to call it a joke if the other person doesn’t see it that way. Hurting someone like that is not okay, no matter your intentions. I can understand how easy it is to follow your peers, but just because everyone around you is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s morally acceptable. Consider your own beliefs before playing along with the crowd.
Witnessing the cruelty amongst athletes of the same sport is disheartening, because in my opinion, that’s not what sports are about. Knowing that you share that story and that goal with hundreds of other kids connects you to them in a way that nothing else can. It is absolutely vital that teens find that connection, whether it be through athletics, clubs, or other organized activities. In fact, United Nations (UN) has recognized their importance by declaring sports a human right:
“Sport and play are human rights that must be respected and enforced worldwide; sport has been increasingly recognized and used as a low-cost and high-impact tool in humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts.”
If our programs do not start to refocus on these aspects of sports, they are going to become dangerously competitive, and students will either abandon their talents or get swept up in the callous behavior that will carry into adulthood. Athletes should limit the chirping to the court, ice, or field, because that’s where we are enemies. Outside of that, we’re all just high school athletes, playing for a common purpose.
It is a well-known fact that some students show more skill and leadership than others. That’s why there is a first chair in orchestra. That’s why there is a captain on a sports team. That’s why there is a president of the student council. That’s why there are all-state teams and MVP’s. Some will get scholarships or go to the pros, while some will end their career in high school. But when did our varying levels of talent become the determining factor in the respect we have for one another? Today, I encourage all competitors to see the commonalities you have with the person standing across from you. Shake their hand after the game. Say good job and mean it. Celebrate your sport instead of your own pride.

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Purpose Over Pride