JIM PETERS: Memo to prep athletes: Be smart, think twice

2013-05-02T17:00:00Z 2013-05-03T01:08:05Z JIM PETERS: Memo to prep athletes: Be smart, think twiceJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 02, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

It's May.

Spring, at long last, is here, it appears.

Proms are already taking place and for impending graduates, open houses are right around the corner.

It's a great time to be a high school kid, a special time. You've earned the right to have some fun.

It's also a tricky, potentially treacherous time. All the activities and gatherings should come with a warning label and a how-to guide for athletes because a singular wrong step can have significant ramifications.

Unfortunately, the politically correct term, "athletic code of conduct violation," is becoming as much a part of the sports vernacular as runs batted in and personal bests.

Good athletes are losing playing time, in some cases, extensive periods, as a result of bad choices made off of the field or court.

I'm not here to scold. I'm nobody's moral conscience. That would make me a hypocrite. None of us with kids have a magic formula to ensure that our kids behave. As parents, we simply do our best to teach them qualities like responsibility and hope when they venture outside the nest, they make decisions that reflect that.

That said, we all make mistakes, particularly kids. It doesn't make you a bad person. It happens. It goes with being young.

I'm just starting to wonder if lessons are being learned. Too many instances of repeat offenses, it seems, and not enough accountability, with people trying to beat the system rather than accept the consequences. If you do happen to get in trouble, take your medicine and come out on the other side better for it. One thing doesn't have to lead to another.

I know every case is different. Sometimes, it really is a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rules are rules. They're not always fair, but they're still the rules, and you're only going to have to deal with more of them for the next 60 years, i.e., the rest of your life. You better get used to it.

Here's a simple rule of thumb that applies in most situations. If you smell smoke, there's probably fire. Play with it and you know what's going to happen. If you're going to err, err on the side of caution. The short-term fun isn't worth the long-term risk.

Also consider that your actions don't just affect you. Whatever sport you're in, you're part of a team. Think of the other people you may be letting down, the friends you may have been with since T-Ball. Think of your school.

High school is the last time most kids will play competitive sports. Even athletes who go on to higher levels often say they couldn't replicate the enjoyment they had during those years. You play because you love to play, not because of a scholarship or salary.

The memories last forever. Just don't let your last recollection be of sitting on the bench for your last game, unable to play. Ten years down the road isn't the time for regret. It's too late to get it back.

OK, lecture done. Hopefully, I don't have to spend time on this subject again in the near future.

Be smart. Think twice. Please.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.


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