The July 4th celebration has many meanings. What I like most about the Fourth of July is that it is halfway through the year. I use the date to gauge how the first half of the year went and how it looks for the second half.


The first half of 2020 has been like nothing I have ever seen in my 69 years. The first half of this year will go down in history as one of the biggest challenges the country has faced.


Sports have been dramatically altered this year and will no doubt have an impact for years to come. Not since Jackie Robinson broke the major league color line in 1947 as he donned a Brooklyn Dodgers jersey, has the world of sports seen such a dramatic change.


The upcoming months should bring some major changes. The NFL’s Washington franchise and Major League Baseball’s Cleveland franchise may both change their team names by the time this article prints. The state of Mississippi will have a new state flag that no longer displays the symbol of a Confederate flag. The SEC and NCAA both refused to host athletic contests in the state until the change to the flag was agreed upon.


Athletics is usually a reflection of the American society as a whole. Hopefully, sports can use the promotion of teamwork to help create positive and constructive changes.


Common ground is the only path for any group to find unity. There has never been a championship team divided by two conflicting halves. When a team wins a championship, every single member hugs one another – bar none! There is no thought given to who is Democrat and who is Republican or what color or religion. All members of the team have one common goal.


Americans need to look at sports teams as an example of all members coming together to accomplish something great. As Rudyard Kipling stated, "The strength of the wolf is in the pack, and the strength of the pack is in the wolf."


It is time to put aside me and think about us. Greatness in sports is not built on division, it is built on togetherness. It is difficult to beat any unified group. The weakness comes with division.


I grew up with parents who taught me that I was only a small part of something bigger and I could succeed if I were willing to share the common good of the group. I coached athletes that few experiences are as helpful in the growth of their lives than choosing to be part of a selfless group working toward a common goal.


The athletic experience offers many individually satisfying memories, but the reward lies in the memories built from being part of something bigger than yourself. Our country needs to understand this lesson more than any other recent time in history.


Perhaps the first half of 2020 can serve as a catalyst toward understanding the importance of being good teammates.


• The quote of the week comes from sports broadcasting legend Howard Cosell: "Stand for something. Don’t quest for popularity at the expense of morality, ethics and honesty. Daniel Webster taught this country that what is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular."


– 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 t.crone@comcast.net.