For most of my adult life, I have been involved in high school athletics in one way or another. I have always looked at high school sports as an extension of the classroom. At this level, sports should not be just about wins and losses; it should be about teaching young men and women important lessons about life: the value of hard work, team work, and dedication to a goal. Over the years, it seems as if more and more folks have lost sight of the educational role of high school athletics, focusing instead on winning at all costs. Every year we see more and more examples of coaches actually fighting with one another, parents screaming like crazed lunatics from the stands, and game officials being attacked. And yet just when I begin to feel as if high school sports have permanently changed for the worse, a story emerges that shows some coaches and some schools still get it.
Last week, our nation was horrified by the news of yet another school shooting. A 17-year-old student at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Washington opened fire in the school cafeteria. Three students were killed, and several others seriously wounded. Had a heroic young teacher not intervened as the shooter was trying to reload, the loss of life would certainly have been far greater. The tragedy ripped at the hearts of everyone in the Marysville community.