This past week I had a phone conversation with Bill Erneste, activities director at Park Hill High School.
Bill was on my coaching staff at Blue Springs 21 years ago. I called to congratulate him and his family on his induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Bill made Park Hill High School one of the elite wrestling programs in Missouri.
We talked at length about the many changes at the high school level over the past several years. It is much harder to be a parent, coach, teacher and administrator today. Bill has the initials TNN on his office wall. That stands for “The New Normal.” Our society has been inundated with the new normal the last few years. We blame the new normal for the explosion that has occurred on social media.
Social media has all but eliminated one-on-one sit-down conversations. High school sports have been a place for positive life lessons to be learned. The New Normal provides an excuse in many cases but high school sports should continue to provide a situation to learn old values that can serve follow athletes through their life.
If The New Normal is college basketball coaches and shoe companies paying thousands of dollars under the table to get a top recruit, I am out. If The New Normal allows prostitutes to be hired to sway blue chip athletes in any sport to recruit players, I am out. If The New Normal encourages high school players to quit teams because their own personal goals are more important than the team’s goals, I am out. If The New Normal is to have pro athletes act like little children on the field when things do not go their way, I am out.
We need to quit making excuses using The New Normal and make athletes, coaches, parents and administrators accountable for their actions again. Young people involved in high school athletics should be held to a higher standard.
Our society knows the difference between right and wrong, but over the last 10 to 20 years we have grown to accept the way it is. The individual has become more important than the team. Rudyard Kipling once stated, “The strength of the wolf is in the pack and the strength of the pack is in the wolf.”
Today’s very talented high school athletes are often treated special at a very young age as they enter the world of competitive teams. To be told repeatedly from age 8 to 18 that you are the greatest, you begin to believe it to be true. The greatest honor a young player can receive is for teammates to name his/her greatest strength to be a great teammate. The New Normal places too much emphasis on individual accomplishments.
The basic learning process in high school sports is being compromised by a ridiculous acceptance of The New Normal. Challenges are difficult because we make them difficult. You cannot blame social media or even the coverage of the media when athletes and coaches make the conscience decision to put “Me” or “I “before the team.
High school sports have become all about an end goal of a college scholarship. This is included in The New Normal. If we accept The New Normal, high school sports will no longer be the place to learn important life lessons.
We can do better. It is important to remember to do things for the right reason, particularly in high school sports.
• Congratulations to former Oak Grove wrestling coach and activities director Bob Glasgow for his upcoming induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
• The Major League Baseball playoff series in both leagues have featured managers who tend to over-manage. Starters are starters and relievers are relievers but managers seem to forget that in the heat of battle.
• The first five games of the Chiefs season have shut down chatter by gurus about Alex Smith. A lot of fans have badmouthed him during his time in Kansas City. Like it or not he has been a consistent winner.
• My quote of the week comes from noted American educator Charles W. Eliot: “If I had the opportunity to say a final word to all the young people of America, it would be this: Don’t think too much about yourself. Try to cultivate the habit of thinking about other; this will reward you. Selfishness always brings its own revenge. It cannot be escaped. Be unselfish. That is the first and final commandment for those who would be useful and happy in their usefulness.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.