• 79°

High school sports bring communities together

Tailgates. Pep rallies. Friday night lights.
This time of year, all eyes are on Friday night and high school football. Whether it be Hampton, Cloudland, Unaka, Happy Valley or Elizabethton, each school has a following of faithful fans, who show up to support their team, win or lose.
Just as student athletes benefit from sports, so do fans. Attending high school sporting events can teach some important life lessons.
Among them, it teaches we can live in different communities, come from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures, cheer for different teams, and still have a common bond.
Sadly, a Bristol, Tennessee football player, 16-year-old Micah Montgomery, drowned this weekend. He scored a touchdown in Friday night’s victory over Knox Karns. His untimely death result was an outpouring of sympathy not only from teams, but from football fans across the area.
During this time when coronavirus is all around us, and has invaded homes, schools, and sports teams, attending sporting events this fall is so important. It’s not only an opportunity to cheer for your hometown team, it is also an opportunity to celebrate our commonality. And, that’s something our country needs right now with all the bickering among our political leaders.
The bond we share is mutually supporting the teenagers in our respective communities. We applaud their persistence, tenacity, preparation and hard work, regardless of the color of the uniform they wear. We acknowledge that education-based, high school sports are enhancing their lives, and ours, in ways that few other activities could. And we agree that, regardless of what side of the field we sit on, attending a high school sporting event is an uplifting, enriching, family-friendly experience for all of us.
Our high schools lie at the heart of the communities they represent. They not only are educating our next generation of leaders, they also are a place where we congregate, where people from every corner of town and all walks of life come together as one. And at no time is this unity more evident than during a high school athletic event.
High school sports bring a sense of pride to communities, especially at the beginning of a new school year. Even as many districts delayed school start dates, the need for sports continues to influence local decision-making. Also, having students participate in sports after a spring of canceled seasons has become a priority.
And the impact doesn’t end there. Remote learning brings considerable challenges and requires students to engage with schools in unique ways. High school athletics provide an opportunity for students to engage with their teammates and coaches face to face, even if their school is still offering virtual instruction.
As COVID-19 continues to occupy news headlines, communities are looking at those lights as a beacon of hope. With the help of local and area school officials, each district and school has provided guidelines that should steer community practices as residents support high school athletics. Communities should follow these guidelines, and school officials should continuously educate the public about best practices related to safety while watching competitions. If the county or city is requiring masks in stadiums and arenas for high school sports, then communities should mask-up and do their part to ensure seasons do not come to a sudden stop.
Sports are necessary for our communities. It’s often said that coaches need kids and kids need coaches. It is also true that coaches and kids need their communities’ support, and their communities need their coaches and kids to do well. As Carter Countians, more of us should support our schools and their athletic programs, which are representing the best of our respective communities.
Opportunities abound in the classroom and outside it. Let’s make the most of them by attending as many athletic events at the high schools in our community as possible and cheering our athletes on.