There’s no but – it’s really just a game |

There’s no but – it’s really just a game

It’s a game, but… It’s all a game, but… You know, it’s just a game … but. When did the “but” become a permanent fixture tacked onto the end of our statements? When did we abdicate our own personal responsibilities?

Last week, we were slapped in the face with the sentencing of Thomas Junta. He was sent to prison after beating another father to death after a hockey practice – and this was done in front of watching children.

Yeah, Junta did it, but…

There isn’t any but.

Hockey is a game. Basketball is a game. Football – gasp – is a game.

There shouldn’t be any buts after that.

Somewhere along the line we started placing too much importance on sports, sporting events and athletes.

We forgot that professional athletes are playing a game for our enjoyment. That’s it. They’re playing a game for us. Something to distract us from the troubles around us. Others are doing the things that really matter.

Firemen are going into burning buildings, volunteers are giving their time to help others, and baby boomers around the nation are taking care of aging parents. These are real heroes. And there’s no “but” to it.

When we lose perspective on sports, things spin out of control.

It’s not always as obvious as manslaughter charges, but that doesn’t make it OK.

Our loss of perspective has trickled into all levels of sports, and that’s what makes it so insidious.

It takes many forms, too.

Ever been at a game and heard parents swearing at coaches or officials?

I have. And it’s become more and more commonplace. That’s just not an example kids should be learning from.

That’s not it, though. It also takes the form of parents pushing kids too hard. That’s sometimes harder to put a finger on; it’s not as obvious.

There’s a fine line between positive pushing and negative pushing, and every parent with a child in sports needs to find it themselves.

Scholarships are a good example of this. Yes, there are scholarships out there – a lot of them. That doesn’t mean every kid will get one; most won’t. Most kids, in fact, won’t play any organized sports after high school.

The point is, we’re still talking about a game. Any kid who is playing for any reason other than love of the game probably shouldn’t be playing.

It’s just a game … but…

No, it’s just a game, and kids don’t start to think otherwise until adults tell them different.

Maybe it’s time to stop telling them differently.

Shawn Swillinger is sports editor at The Union.

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