To the point week of 02-28-08

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IT SEEMS LIKE I WRITE THIS column every year – but I guess it goes to the nature and quality of the people that I am writing about. If I do write this same general column each year, I usually do it much sooner than I would like to.

On Tuesday night of this week, the Switzerland County boys varsity basketball team wrapped its season with a loss to Lawrenceburg in the sectional.

As the boys season draws to a close, I’m reminded that the girls varsity team also suffered an early tournament exit, also falling on the tourney’s opening night.

Over the past couple of weeks there’s been a lot of talk about the nature of sports, particularly when it applies to children – from high school down to elementary kids.

As adults we often ask ourselves if we’re really doing our children any favors by having them participating in all sorts of athletic activities, and we wonder if there is a saturation point to all of it.

As I stood at courtside on Tuesday night in the Southwestern gym and watched the Switzerland County team walk solemnly off the court; I was reminded of standing in the Lawrenceburg gym about a month earlier and watching the Lady Pacers walk off the court for the final time.

I wanted to speak to each of them, but I couldn’t then.

So I will now.

To the senior members of both teams – 12 in all – you should never confuse your record on a basketball floor with your worth as a human being.

I say that because all too often our society confuses those things, and in doing so we sometimes raise a generation of children who think that the only value that they can provide to society is hitting a ball or kicking it in a goal or shooting it through a hoop.

Switzerland County High School loses 12 basketball players to graduation this year; but perhaps more significant is that the school also loses 12 quality human beings who are each going to be very successful in life.

As you scan the names of this year’s seniors: Courtney Cole, Megan McCarty, Morgan Ross, Tanya Sefton, Amber Smith, April Thieman and Shana Todd for the girls; and Devon Armstrong, Michael Haas, Brandon Otter, Codey Turner, and Daniel Welch for the boys; you see a group of young people who have their entire futures in front of them – and all of the excitement and expectation that goes with it.

Some may play organized basketball at the next level – most will not.

But they will excel in the classroom at the next level; and they will excel in life once that education is finished.

More importantly than raising great athletes – the parents of these players have raised great people.

No matter what they do next in life; they will take their experiences here and they will put them to work and into practice in new adventures and endeavors.

Yes, walking off of a court for the final time is a sad moment, but it’s only a short term ache – because what comes next is full of promise.

This community will miss these 12 young people – and it’s my hope that they will either remain in the community or return to it someday.

Switzerland County is a special place because of the people who live here, not just because of the natural setting we live in.

Congratulations on the conclusion of outstanding careers on the basketball court.

Here’s wishing you as much or more success in the next chapters of your lives.