AFTER THE WHISTLE

Being a good sport

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— Speed, quickness, hard work and natural ability. These are traits that are admired and respected in the wide, wide world of sports. Many greats have these traits in common.

But, all too often, another important character trait is forgotten, or at least lost in today's mix of athletic endeavors.

Blame it on the money, blame it on the athletes or blame it on the pressures of sports. But it seems that sportsmanship as well as the ability to win and lose with grace has been lost in the world of professional sports.

If you don't believe me just turn on the television and you can see professional tennis players spitting at one another, pro boxers throwing in a few bonus rounds during a press conference and Little Leaguers cheating in an effort to help their team be successful.

Luckily for me, I cover high school sports. In the past 10 years any acts of poor sportsmanship by Steamboat Springs High School players have been rare. I've seen a few fans get out of hand in the stands, but I have to applaud the high school for the way it has handled these rare incidents.

Over that period I've watched hundreds of games and matches and Steamboat Springs High School should be proud of the players who have worn the red and white uniforms.

However, Bruce Crowhurst the school's new athletics director isn't happy just to reflect on the past when it comes to sportsmanship.

With the examples young players are provided with today, who can blame him?

This year, Crowhurst and the school will begin a new program aimed at recognizing those students who display the best sportsmanship.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today will print the names and a short brief each week on the athlete who has been deemed the best sport. That person will be selected by the high school. My hope is that the parents, students and folks selecting this honor will take it seriously.

Steamboat has always been blessed with great coaches who have demanded a high level of sportsmanship from their players. Kelly Meek, Wendy Hall, Rob Bohlmann and Mark Drake are prime examples.

The newer coaches also seem to be following in the same line of no tolerance for poor behavior.

But let's face it, most adults are going to have only a small impact on high school students. Students listen more to their peers and teammates. Those are the folks who will set the guidelines for the next generation of athletes.

As a fan of high school sports, I have come to realize how important it is for players and fans to display good sportsmanship whether it's victory or defeat.

How a student acts on the field is not only a representation of the athlete but also of his or her school or community.

Today, it is easy to see prime examples of poor sportsmanship on the covers of major sports magazines and on television. Maybe the time has come to recognize and reward those players both in high school and at the professional level that display good traits when it comes to sportsmanship.

They are out there the problem is that it is hard to find their stories while acts that often shock us all are on the front page.

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