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Finding the right balance in athletics

This may seem an obvious statement, as will some of the ones that follow it, but books are more important than sports.

Even as elementary as that sounds, the student-athlete sometimes is less of one than the other.

In the lump sum of our sports publications, it’s easy to get lost in the bright lights that illuminate the field, since my job revolves around the on-the-field performance of the county’s student-athletes.

Today’s Press features a story about Matthew Wigglesworth and Lucas Wollenman (front page), two Big Horn High School seniors getting a large sum of scholarship money to attend Michigan State University.

Academically.

Athletes, as I know them, but from a first-impression young-adult standpoint, they’re genuinely polite, nice kids. Two of the most athletically-gifted kids you’ll see, who could very easily take a much more arrogant approach. And there are plenty more around here like them.

Sure, I’m only 24, what do I know? I know a little bit, some of the time.

I have three little brothers and a little sister. If they don’t do their homework I’d still happily come up to my parents house and beat them up, because I’m still bigger and stronger than them.

While I don’t have such strong opinions about whether or not the kids I cover in sports do their homework or not, there’s something to be said for the ones that do.

The focus of school-first, sports-second in a high school athlete is key in avoiding a serious rut right after high school, and maybe beyond.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of regular students, good ones, who put school first, don’t get their names in the paper, and go on to do very well in whatever they choose after high school.
I’m talking about how the glamour of small-town prep sports success clutters priorities, even expanding the head sizes of some.

The older a former high school athlete gets, “remember when” stories of gridiron glory become so much a lower and lower form of passing-the-time conversation.

There is a great big important space for athletics. It’s my job to promote them. It keeps those meddling kids off the streets. Sarcasm aside, sports in high school build confidence, character and work ethic for kids both college bound and workforce bound. This is true especially if they’re approached the right way, and coached the right way, which they seem to be here in Sheridan County.

I mean this when I say it, and not as an apologist’s statement: the many kids I’ve covered this year throughout the county are good sports on the field, seemingly taking the right approach, from a spectator point of view. I can’t stand whiney, cocky athletes, and those types of kids, for whatever reason, don’t usually populate Sheridan athletics.

Focus on sports in high school, and lots of them. What the heck else do you have to do with your time? If not, get a haircut and a job.

Regardless of what you do with your free time — go buy some birkenstocks and find some hip, liberal cause to support, I don’t care — believe me when I say, things are much easier if you work hard in school and gather up as much scholarship money as that generous donor and Uncle Sam himself will throw your way.

I worked hard in school, and sometimes loans are as inevitable as paying them back is stupid but, who knows, maybe you could get your school paid for, and that’s like four free years of stress free living. 
And these days, that’s make believe stuff right there.

Plus, if you’re five-foot and a half of nothing with three left feet like I was in high school, readin’ good and workin’ hard is your best option.

Brad estes is the Sheridan Press Sports Editor

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Brad Estes

Sheridan Press sports editor

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