Why do young athletes participate is sports?
To answer that, it is necessary to go back to our earliest memories when sports were just pure fun — the joy of kicking or throwing a ball, running fast or swimming.
At a certain point though, competition is introduced as a way of comparing one athlete to another, and of measuring performance.
From that point on, the athlete finds joy, not only in playing but in the recognition that comes with doing well.
The way I see it, that is a big part of my role as the sports reporter for the Sedona Red Rock News, The Camp Verde Journal and the Cottonwood Journal Extra — giving recognition to deserving young athletes.
Athletes receive recognition from a lot of different people when they perform well. First, and foremost is the recognition they receive from their teammates, followed closely by their coaches, their parents and siblings, and from their classmates and school.
While the recognition they receive in this publication may be less personal, it is more widespread.
When an athlete’s performance is mentioned in these pages, it is noted community wide, so instead of just a few people knowing; hundreds or even thousands may know.
The only problem with that system is that before it can be printed in this publication, I need to have access to specific information about the athlete’s performance.
For that I need help.
There’s an old saying: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
If a young athlete gives a great performance and no one knows about it, did it still happen?
The answer to both questions is yes, of course.
But the best, and frequently the only source for the information I need is the coaches of all the local teams, because no one knows these young athletes better than their coaches do.
I’ve expressed before how much respect I have for the coaches of youth sports. In most cases, they are selflessly dedicated to the enjoyment and success of the kids they coach, and for very little compensation.
But I need to ask one more favor of those coaches: Call me after your team plays with individual and team results.
It will only take five minutes, and it can make a huge difference in the amount of recognition your athletes receive.
I wish I could be at every game, but I am only one person who covers three high schools, several middle schools and club teams, so I could use a little help.
I have a voice mail set up at my office phone 282-7795, ext. 131 where you can tell me the score of your game, how your team scored, and a few short comments about the top performing athletes on your team.
If you will take this one simple step, I promise your team’s results will appear in the next week’s paper.
This isn’t about me, or this newspaper. It’s about getting recognition for the kids.
Because if a young athlete gives a great performance and no one knows about it, did it still happen?