THE CHEAP SEATS: Excelling in off-the-field activities is important for high school athletes and an important story to tell

From Score Atlanta print edition

In our prep editions this week, Score managing editor Stephen Black wrote a cover piece about athletes being honored for their play on the field but, more importantly, their work in the classroom and community.

The Sports Champions of Greater Atlanta puts on the event every year and while it does not get near the same publicity as the on-the-field awards dinners receive, it is much more important.

Coming from someone immersed in high school athletics both at home and on the job, I see not only how the prep sports world has grown as a business, but also where it is losing its touch with reality.
Look, all three of my children (one boy and two girls) are in high school and would like the opportunity to play college ball, and both my wife and I have devoted time and money to help to make them better athletes. We go to their games, help them schedule extra workouts and my wife does a great job of shopping for the right foods and giving them nutritional balance, which is just as important as anything they can do in a weight room.
But we try hard not to lose sight of the reason why we pushed them so hard into sports, something very evident in Black’s article where, for example, Forrest Parks of Whitefield Academy is a great all-around athlete but also is the student body president and has a 4.0 GPA.
Both my wife and I are far from perfect. We have made plenty of mistakes but I think we have been realistic about one thing and that is, regardless of what happens beyond high school, sports will have helped molded our children’s character and chances for success.
And that is why I am such a big advocate of participating in sports. It’s so much more than what we see on a Sunday at the Masters or every night on ESPN. It’s not only a way to keep your child busy and away from certain vices that seem to find themselves at the foot of someone who has a lot of time on their hands, but it truly helps a young adult focus on the other parts of their lives. A busy athlete must find time to do well in school and be involved in other activities as well as developing strong organizational and time management skills, which will carry on for life.
At Score and many other sports publications, we spend a lot of time focusing on what is happening on the field. Events such as the one put on by The Sports Champions of Greater Atlanta remind us all that there is so much more to the student-athlete who may rush for 1,000 yards or average 25 points a game.
Tiger Woods proved to us all that, while he may be the greatest golfer that ever walked a course and has a bank account filled with millions, something was missed in his development. Perhaps his father only cared about his work on the golf range and didn’t allow him the time to fully mature into an all-around person, something that perhaps would have kept him from committing the indiscretions made public to the whole world.
As parents, we can only do our best and keep our fingers crossed tightly that we have taught our children right. Good for The Sports Champions of Greater Atlanta for being a group focused on the other side of athletics─ the true test of a student-athlete.

Excuse me while I get a little excited about our Atlanta Hawks. As press time, they had a 2-0 lead in the playoff series with Milwaukee and had barely broken a sweat. The good news is the team is doing what a No. 3 seed should in the opening round of the postseason and that is take out the No. 6 seed easily. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucks take a game in Milwaukee but I don’t see this series going more than five games. I also see the Hawks having every chance of knocking off Orlando in the next round, a series which likely is going to turn into a war. No prediction now, as both teams still have some work to do before they meet in the second round, but this town could be in store for something we haven’t seen since the early 1990′s when the Braves were making their great run.

The Republicans shouldn’t waste any time on who their next candidate for president. It should be NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who pulled the rug out under Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and suspended him for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Goodell didn’t care about the fact that Big Ben had been twice accused but never charged with sexual assault. Goodell is looking out for what is in the best interest for the league and is not going to tolerate this type of behavior. That would go well in Washington.

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