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Why do we have to question our own 'winning' message?


Before I leap into another round of Questions without Answers, sports fans, let me hit on something that has become an annual summer baseball dilemma:

Should teams be allowed to pick up extra players for tournament play?

A few parents have called my 24-hour Sportsline at 647-2499 the last couple days to discuss how far teams should go to win. What is fair and what is not fair?

With so many state, regional and national Tournaments available to amateur baseball teams these days, the motivation to win has increased. And there is nothing wrong with teaching young kids and teen-agers the importance of winning.

In his Arundel Wildcats' baseball manual, Coach Bernie Walter says of winning, "The target is victory. Without victory, there is no success.

"Winning is not the most important thing. It's the ONLY thing!"

I wholeheartedly agree with Walter; the lesson is to succeed, and that's what life is all about. The idea is to be the best you can at whatever you do.

We don't tell kids to fail in school. We teach them to work for the highest grade they can get. That's winning, the only thing.

We encourage kids to do well in high school so they can get into college and earn a degree. When that has been accomplished, the young person goes out into the real world to get a job.

It's been drummed into the youth: to get a good job, one that pays a good salary and has the benefits he or she wants. We teach our kids to move up the ladder to promotions and higher salaries, resulting in a better standard of living.

That's winning, the only thing.

Those who say that winning is over-emphasized by high school and youth coaches don't know what they are talking about. They don't understand the value of winning and its relation to life.

An awful lot can be learned about people and life through participation in team sports,especially when youths play in a goal-oriented situation. Setting goals, of course, means looking to win.

Still, the line must be drawn somewhere, which brings me to the phone calls of a few concerned parents.

They were upset that their kids played on a team all summer, DTC participated in all the fund-raisers, showed up for all the games and practices, but come tournament time found themselves on the pines.

They were benched so that a player from an opposing team within their league could play. In other words, some kids lost starting positions to an opponent because the coach felt his team would be stronger with the new guy.

Most national organizations allow teams to add players from within their league, and there is nothing wrong with this if it is done in the right way. Probably the most popular reason to add players is to bolster a team's pitching staff.

But a coach must keep in mind that those who got him there can't be overlooked in favor of the newcomer. Diplomacy is vital.

When position players are added, it's only fair to give the regulars who helped get you to postseason a chance to play. Playing the new guy along with the guys who got you there is important.

It's also important to communicate with your players and see how they feel about adding a really good player. Explain to them why you need to add a certain player and what his value will be to the team.

You'll find most kids understand, and want to do what is best for the team.

Feelings can be hurt in athletics and pressure can be felt, but that's what life is all about. It's better for a coach dealing with teen-agers to be honest than to not say anything and make a move.

Of course, if the rules said you couldn't add players, there wouldn't be such a problem, would there?

On to the Qs.

* How envious do you think South River assistant hoop coach Jack Jordan and other county coaches are of the feeder program Annapolis coach John Brady has to draw from?

"Would you believe there are 550 kids who can attend Annapolis High playing in the Annapolis Youth Basketball program?" Jordan asks.

Jordan coaches the Seahawks in the Annapolis City Recreation Outdoor Summer Hoop loop; by doing so, he has dramatically lifted the caliber of play at South River.

But other than working with several South River cagers duringthe summer, nothing in Edgewater even comes close to the Annapolis feeder system.

And what makes it even more difficult for county teams to beat Annapolis is that Brady knows how to coach and picks the right players from the scores who try out for his program.

* Can you believe that two Baltimore Blast players inquired about the vacant Broadneck High boys' soccer position when Kevin McMullen announced he was leaving to take a full-time teaching-coaching position at Thomas Johnson Middle-Senior High school in Frederick County?

"The same day the story ran on me leaving, the Major Indoor Soccer league folded and a couple Blast players called Broadneck to look into my job," McMullen said. "They were surprised when they found out that it was not a full-time coaching position and only paid $1,500 to $2,000 a season."

* Will Southern boys soccer coach Jon Braun soon be named McMullen's successor at Broadneck?

Did you know that Southern will not field a varsity boys team this year, just a JV, because of a serious numbers problem?

* Speaking of fielding teams, have you heard that Annapolis Area Christian School plans to start a boys and girls lacrosse program in the spring of 1993 with veteran youth coach Dick Bitzer coaching the guys?

"We are currently searching for a girls lacrosse coach," AACS Athletic Director Bob Topp says.

You can call Topp at 266-8251.

* Interested in playing fall baseball? If so, give Frank "Jocko" Svoboda a call at 761-0642 to get details on his Aug. 9 meeting at Saw Mill Creek Park.

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