One of, if not the most, gratifying aspect of being a sports fan is the fact that there is always a next season. There is always room to grow and always more to accomplish. The taste of success only fuels the hunger for more.
Case in point, this year’s Carolina Panthers. After two years of disappointing seasons, I expected a huge leap in wins before the 2013 season started. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased after a 1-3 start. But after rattling off seven straight wins, my expectations are even higher for this team that’s proven it can beat the tops teams in the NFL. If the Panthers fall anywhere short of a Super Bowl, I’ll be disappointed. I’ll be proud of the team’s progress, but I won’t be satisfied with the end result if the team isn’t hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in New York.
If the Panthers do find themselves as Super Bowl champions, I’ll expect another one next season. I won’t be satisfied with one.
The same can be said for my Charlotte 49ers basketball team. Just last weekend they upset a Michigan team that appeared in last year’s national championship game and was ranked 14th in the country.
Now going into the season, I had very few expectations for the 49ers who always seemed to be stuck in mediocrity, but after that win, they better be in the field of 64 come March.
Now I may sound like someone who’s impossible to please, and maybe I am, but I like to think of myself who always strives for more. I take that stance as a sports fan and as a human being. I value the future and understand that to be successful I need to set goals for myself that are constantly growing.
Now let’s bring this to a local level.
Every high school team starts the season with goals in mind. Many of them start with the opportunity to get better and then move onto winning records, county championships, conference championships and some even aspire to win state titles. Now I’m aware that winning a state title is incredibly hard and it can take years upon years to reach that pinnacle, but I still believe that any season that ends without a state championship is incomplete. If you’re not the last one standing you should not be satisfied. I’ve noticed some programs that feel the same way, but I also notice too many that hang their hats on individual wins or even unofficial county championships.
By all means, be proud of what you accomplish, but let’s not lose sight of what else can be accomplished.
R-S Central football won the county championship this season and returned to the playoffs after two dismal seasons. As nice as that is, I can guarantee you that the Hilltoppers coaching staff isn’t satisfied with being bounced out of the playoffs in the first round.
I say this because Rutherford County is seeing success in many of our youth programs. Just this summer this county sent a baseball team to the Little League World Series.
R-S Middle football went to the conference championship in football and and youth teams from the Rutherfordton Raiders and Forest City Cavaliers competed and thrived in a national youth football tournament.
Chase and Thomas Jefferson soccer each had incredible seasons, but those players still shed tears when their seasons ended.
All of those accolades are something to be proud of, but never settle. All of the teams that I mentioned proved that they can accomplish wonderful things, but there is no reason to stop now.
As a community we must recognize the potential that these young people have, nurture that talent and strive for even more. The desire to a better person regardless of what aspect of life it’s in should be instilled early and often.
If we can encourage these kids to continue their growth as athletes and citizens and never to settle for small victories, it can only help them become better adults, spouses, parents and overall better people.