Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sports Talk: Sports Struggles in a Small Town

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published July 31, 2013. 
I was delighted to see that the U.S. won its fifth Gold Cup title this past weekend after taking out Panama in the championship game. Currently Mexico is the only country topping the title count, with six.
Personally, I enjoy seeing our country moving forward in the soccer world. Soccer was never a big part of my athletic growing up years. Not only did I not play in any of my youth, but it wasn’t even a sport I was played in an intramural sense through school or I learned the rules to—like softball or volleyball. With Casey schools not having soccer,  I never attending any games until college, but having been to a game while visiting Brazil three years ago, there is no doubt the level of excitement the sport holds.
While I loved my Casey County school experience, as with anything in life, you give some and take some. There are a ton of sports out there that our school system does not and cannot offer for one reason or another. Some you can find only a county away; some you will only find in Louisville or Lexington; others you might not even find in the state.
It is a tricky dilemma to argue about—the lack of any particular sport in our area. During my time as a Casey County student I saw the school add girls’ volleyball and both tennis teams. Cross country was added as well after it became a sport I personally pursued. While this was a major accomplishment and advantage to me at the time—something I was very grateful to those who helped me—I admit it was an easier battle to win than trying to get the school to add a new team sport. (All I needed was my own two legs and some open fields for running—we’ve got plenty of those around here.)
Soccer seems like such a basic sport, so it’s almost like we are selling students short by not having a program. (I’m glad we have our youth programs.) At the same time, we are a small school system. There are only so many students total. Of those students, only so many of them have any interest in athletics. It’s a great thought to offer an array of sports, but the reality is that most students have to narrow down their extracurricular to a select two or three.  While we want to see options for sports, we also like to see successful programs in our sports, and the more we spread out our athletes and their focus and talents on any one or two, the harder building successful programs becomes.
It definitely is one of the tough parts about a smaller school system. With my husband having been a soccer player and a big fan of the sport, I do wish I had at least learned more about it in my youth, even if I’d never played on a team. (I never played softball or volleyball on a team, but I know the basic rules.) At least having a youth program gives our children the opportunity to discover this sport and find out if it is something they are passionate about or have natural talent.
The beauty of this day and age is even if your high school does not offer a particular sport or extracurricular, it’s likely you can find a travel team or area league to join.  Whether the high school ever offers soccer (or any other new sport) I understand is a tricky item to tackle for many reasons, but I think it’s more important to simply give kids at a young age the exposure to more sports or extracurricular so they have a chance to learn about them if they so desire.

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