By DAVID GRAVELY
As I grow older, I hope I’m getting a little wiser along the way. Some may dispute that my plan is working out, while others that have known me for a little longer may say they have seen the change over the years.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that no matter what problem I’m having, no matter what dilemma I’m facing, I can usually find the answer somewhere in the Good Book. That applies to problems in life and sports alike.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time of love, and a time of hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of you sitting there right now thinking “what in the heck is Dave talking about?”
I heard this passage this past week, and I couldn’t help but think about how much it applies to Pulaski County and our sports programs right now.
We’ve had some rough times in Cougarland lately. Make no mistakes about it, the wins haven’t been there as much as anyone would like. That includes players, coaches, fans, and those in charge.
The Cougars have seen some good times over the years. Even though we haven’t always won it all, there have been some times that we’ve made a run at getting it done. We’ve won some big games, and at times we’ve lost some big games.
What I see happening right now with our sports is a combination of issues. I don’t think anyone can dispute a few facts, so we’ll start with those.
To keep it short, I’ll just list the issues as I see them.
-The enrollment numbers are down.
-The loss of jobs in our area forces families to move from Pulaski County at times. Too many times that means the children of former Cougar standouts now come to Pulaski County wearing a different uniform.
-The VHSL out of season practice rule change is now forcing student-athletes to pick one sport, and sometimes that sport isn’t football.
-For several years, there was a de-emphasis on the importance of sports in our schools, and it came from the top. It’s going to take a while to recover from that.
-Coaches and administrators sometimes get pressure from parents to put kids where they shouldn’t be. A freshman should rarely be selected to move directly to varsity for any sport, and not everybody is made to be the quarterback or the running back.
-We’ve spent too long telling our kids how good they are, how they are the next big thing, and in some cases we’ve forgotten to tell them about the importance of the team.
-Loyalty isn’t what it used to be.
There are plenty of things that we could be doing to help build our kids up. But instead of doing what we can to help build up those athletes so that baseball and basketball could be better, a lot of people would rather spend their time tearing them or their coaches down every chance they get.
Ah, now we’re coming to the point of the verse.
During football season, or basketball season, or baseball season, or any other season for that matter is not the time to say some of the things being said in public today.
Every person who comes out and buys a ticket to see the team play has the right to sit in those stands and think or say anything they want. Any old Joe at the barber shop, or Bob down at the store, or Fred down the street can (and usually does) have their own opinion of what needs to be done, and most of the time those opinions seem to be about the same based on the win/loss record of the team at that time. If the team is winning, then everybody seems to think the coach is doing a great job. When they lose a few, everybody starts talking about how it’s time for new leadership.
But having the right to say it … doesn’t make it right to say it.
During the season, the young men and women who put on the uniforms of the Cougar sports programs deserve nothing less than our full support and respect. I don’t care if you like or agree with the coaches, they are our kids playing the games. During the season, support the kids and do what you can to support the teams and programs. If a coach isn’t getting the job done then without question that can and should be discussed, but it should be done at the right time. Bashing the kids, the coaches, and the program does nothing for our community but make things worse.
Next Friday night the Pulaski County Cougars will get on a bus and take the trip north on I-81 to Salem Stadium. When they take the field, they deserve the support of every Pulaski County fan that can make the trip. It doesn’t matter if you think it was tougher “back in the day” or if the guys in your class played harder. These Cougars are playing now, and they’re playing for their school.
Let’s get out next Friday and show these young men that COUGAR PRIDE is still alive, and not dead like some think.
Be sure to check back next week for a look at the matchup between the Cougars and the Spartans.