Attention playoff participants: Make sure you enjoy the ride
Emotions will rise with the stakes. The more on the line can lead people to cross lines they would not under normal circumstances.
Particularly this time of year in high school sports as the football playoffs reach their quarterfinal stage across the state, the girls volleyball tournaments hit their state finals in Bloomington-Normal and other sports have finished or are nearing completion.
Players, coaches, parents, students and fans have invested a lot of energy and time in their athletes and teams. Taking part in moments such as these is the big return on those investments.
Maybe your school has never been to a football quarterfinal or hasn't been there in decades. Maybe your team is trying to take another step on an expected run at a state title in Champaign.
Your volleyball team may be making its first trip to the state finals. You may have been involved with a soccer team that went further than anyone expected.
Just about every emotion comes into play no matter what sport is being played. Heck, you could feel joy, sadness, admiration, exhilaration, frustration, anger and disappointment all within a span of a couple of minutes.
But here is something everyone should do at some point this weekend or down the road when you get to these situations. Step back for a moment and take a look around and just take everything in.
Look at the packed stands and blaring bands at a football game and realize how cool it is to still be watching and playing football at this point. Take a look around Redbird Arena or some other state venue and realize how fortunate you are to get an opportunity to play at a level so many others have dreamed of throughout their lives.
And don't forget something we often are all guilty of losing sight of at this time -- that all of these athletes, coaches and officials are out there trying to do their best at these memorable moments. Try to take a step back and remember that before becoming too critical about a call or getting too upset about a play that didn't go right.
Do what you can to make sure these are the best of times for everyone who gets these kinds of chances.
Who's my line?
One of the biggest pet peeves of some of us who cover high school sports is when the biggest guys on the football field receive little or no recognition for their efforts. It's truly disappointing to see a star quarterback or running back quoted as saying "I owe it all to my offensive line" and yet there is no payoff for these guys by even including their names in a story.
It happens much too often. All it takes is writing down the numbers once the game starts or even asking the coach after the game for their names. These guys should be a little less anonymous when their team puts up 50 points or 500 yards.
Continuing to go green:
York boys cross country coach Joe Newton celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first state championship by bringing title trophy No. 28 back to Elmhurst from Peoria last Saturday. There is definitely a little bias here as a graduate of the school, but Newton's ability to get runners to stand tall time after time -- through all of the changing times -- is one of the most remarkable sports feats anywhere.
• Marty Maciaszek is a freelance columnist for the Daily Herald and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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