Striving to be a good sport

I have a confession.

I never played in a sports league as a child.

In fact, I barely played any sports at all. Telling people this in Canada, especially in small towns, often elicits gasps of horror and questions about my neglected childhood.

The truth is I just didn’t find sports that fun. I know, I know.

The reason I bring this up is because I believe there’s a good point to make on the importance of community sports, especially among youth, in small towns and cities.

And what better time to make it other than fresh on the heels of Minor Hockey Week? (And for those hockey parents wondering about our Minor Hockey Week spread – it’s been postponed to the Jan. 28 edition.)

I thought a lot about this subject of sports and coming together as a community while watching youth stare up in admiration at the players at the Capital Junior Hockey League’s All-Star Games last weekend, held at the Jubilee Recreation Centre.

Sports have the ability to inspire, to excite, to infuse us with community spirit and to bring people closer together. I have seen this time and time again at community sports events and it’s always encouraging.

Playing sports is healthy, builds character and keeps kids on the right track.

There’s also the ugly side of sports, where kids (and adults) are put down for their performances and where overzealous hockey parents get a little too excited behind the Plexiglas.

And despite my lack of interest in the technicalities of sports, I do find the passion they evoke fascinating. Sure, I wish more people cared as much about global issues and politics, but I can also understand why those topics are prone to apathy.

And here at your local community paper, a big part of our job is to convey your passion and interest in local sports. It’s often said that the most read sections in any paper are sports and crime and I have no reason to doubt this.

Having said that, covering sports can sometimes be a challenge for me.  I can discuss international politics, journalistic ethics and the municipal minutiae of land-use planning with the best of them, but ask me the difference between atom and bantam and my brain freezes up like a goalie in overtime.

Over the last three years writing about sports, I’ve learned a lot about the different levels of minor leagues in a variety of sports. I still find it confusing, to be honest, but I’m continuing to learn and I’m always striving to provide Grade-A reporting on local sports that takes into account the complexities and nuances of the game. A frequent criticism I hear in regard to the Fort Saskatchewan Record is that we don’t cover enough levels of minor hockey. For this, I apologize, but must also note that it’s just not doable at this time with the resources we have.  I also recognize the joy a young person experiences when they see themselves in the paper, so I want to work with the community to continually highlight our local athletes who are achieving great things. If your daughter or son is heading to a provincial or national competition, let us know. We’re here for you.

Sports may not be my greatest passion, but the way it can bring a community together and inspire young people in particular to reach for their dreams can be an inspiration to us all.

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