I don't remember a single play from my high school football career. No, not because I got my head bashed in (at least I hope not). My most vivid memories happened off the field.
Pregame prayers and postgame pizza parties. Early morning talks on drives to practices — and finding creative ways to get out of them. Shaving my head on the first day of varsity camp and crying on my dad’s shoulder after my final game, which would have sent us to the state championship.
Long before my first job or intimate relationship, sports taught me preparation, humility, acceptance, perseverance and teamwork — that sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way, and that's OK. In my hardest moments, there was always a teammate there to have my back.
(Photo courtesy Sean Stewart)
This month’s feature, “Full Court Press,” looks at how youth sports has ballooned into a megabusiness and a culture of more, more, more.
Before children are 10 years old, they often feel pressure to perform. As lofty collegiate goals loom overhead, parents find themselves sucked down a rabbit hole of cutthroat competition that pushes their children over the edge.
During dozens of interviews, though, community was one of the most common themes. Sports presented trials and tribulations, but they also formed bonds that later led to professional connections, best friends and lifelong passion.
We’re a sports town; that'll never change. More than a warning, we hope to remind you that the true value of competition isn't in wins and losses but values and friendships. That's what makes sports such an essential part of life in Northeast Ohio.