By James Benedict
I’ve never been a big fan of the NHL. I respect hockey as a sport but the NHL has never really done it for me. However, there is one game that I make sure to watch: the Winter Classic. Each New Years Day the NHL gives its fans something special, an outdoor game, and each year the game is better than the last.
While the games aren’t necessarily played better, the players definitely play differently. They play like they did ten years earlier, just kids out on a frozen lake.
This is a lesson we can often forget at Carmel: sports are just games. The prevailing attitude at Carmel is a competitive one, where teams always push to be first. This attitude leads to Carmel being one of the best schools in the country which by no means is a bad thing, but it can leave heavy stress on students.
Players need to make time to play a less constructed version of their sport. Whether it is playing H.O.R.S.E. or backyard football, pickup games can offer some of the best experiences.
We started playing sports as kids because they are just plain fun. Whether it’s playing or watching them, sports are an interesting way for people to spend their time.
Of course one reason they’re so interesting is because of the competition and by no means should that aspect be removed from athletics. However, there should also be a non-competitive version of the sport for athletes to play.
Every Thursday night I play indoor lacrosse, and it is some of the most fun I have all year. Both teams try their hardest and competition is certainly in the game, but when all is said and done we shake hands and walk away knowing that the game did not really matter.
When I’m playing these games I’m not playing for a spot on the team and I’m not going blow the entire season if I mess up. I’m just playing lacrosse. This stress free play has led to some of my favorite moments in any sport I’ve played.
If athletes want to get the most out of their sport they need to realize the value of just playing. Baseball, one of America’s greatest pastimes, came to be by kids in alleys hitting a stick with a ball.
Baseball spread out quickly to kids who played a “sandlot” style of the game. In the movie Sandlot Benny Rodriguez tells Smalls, “Man, this is baseball. You gotta stop thinking. Just have fun.”
Athletes can spend too much time thinking and worrying about their competition in their sport and not actually playing it. This sandlot style of baseball is quickly disappearing to a more rigid style in little league.
Today it is not entirely uncommon to hear stories of coaches rigging their rosters with older kids just for the extra edge, when they should be more worried about making sure their legitimate kids learn the game.
It is inevitable that people will cheat to win. This unethical practice ruins the experience for many young athletes around the world. One of the most infamous story of all included Little League phenom pitcher Danny Almonte.
In 2001, Almonte led his team from the Bronx nicknamed the “Baby Bombers” to the Little League World Series. Almonte was the star of the team and seemed to be destined for great things, but it was later revealed that he was two years older than the rest of the players. This made him ineligible and forced the team to vacate all of its wins for that season.
When the coach from the “Baby Bombers” choose to play Almonte, not only did he wrong any team his team beat, he also wronged any pitcher behind Almonte. By cheating the pitchers behind Almonte did not gain the full experience they could of. They may of not been as dominating as Almonte but at least they would of played fairly.
Making everything a do or die situation is not the correct way of handling athletics. If the pressure to win is high enough you could find yourself compromising your ethics for a win. Competitive and constructive sports are in their rightful spot at the top of most athletes’ priority but sometimes you just gotta have some fun.
James Benedict is a reporter at the Hilite. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org