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Game of life is a competition
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    Ah, football is back.
    The lawnmowers are out mowing the fields, the maintenance crews are painting lines on the field and the concession workers are boiling the bright red hotdogs.
    (Side note: what the heck is that red stuff on those hot dogs? They scare me.)
    (Additional side note: But they’re tasty.)
    Yep, high school football. Athletes who play simply for the joy of competition and with a true love for the game.
    Speaking of competition, I’d like to address the recent attacks on competition. School systems in Maryland have banned tag, youth soccer leagues all over the country have stopped taking score and then there’s this.
    According to an Aug. 25 Associated Press story, there is a 9-year-old boy in New Haven, Conn. that has been banned from playing in his 8 to 10-year-old youth baseball league. In fact, league officials are actually trying to disband his team and distribute the players among the other teams.
    The reason? He pitches too well.
    You heard me. He’s such an effective pitcher officials said he is no longer allowed to pitch because he’s too darn good.
    Sure, the kid has a blazing fast 40-mile-an-hour fastball (I guess that’s fast for little league) and his team is heading to the playoffs with an 8-0 record. But banning him from pitching?
    It’s got so crazy that when he took the mound on Aug. 20, in defiance of the league’s draconian mandate, the other team packed up its gear, walked off the field and forfeited the game. Now that’s sportsmanship.
    What worries me is not so much the message the league and the pouting coaches are sending to this particular kid, but the message they are sending to the 100 other kids in the league.
    Punishment for being too good? Don’t stand out or you’ll be penalized? Excellence will not be tolerated?
    Now, I’m in no way way suggesting that you should do whatever it takes to win a youth league championship — you know, like playing 12 players on defense all season because the ref didn’t catch you — but I am suggesting that kids — even little kids — can learn from competition.
    After all, life is a competition and the most important thing they can learn through athletics is how to accept defeat gracefully, then get up off the mat and keep working hard. Only the champions end their season with a win.
    Translate this to job hunting. Typically, a job posting will result in tens or hundreds of applications being turned in, but ultimately only one person wins the job. Everyone else loses. Learning to shake off that rejection and continuing to move forward is an important lesson to learn.
    Too bad the folks in New Haven don’t realize that.
    Changing tack for a bit of self-promotion, the Herald and statesboroherald.com will be live streaming some of the local high school football games this fall. Primarily, we’ll be focusing on the 2005 AAAA State Champion Statesboro Blue Devils, broadcasting most of their home games. We’ll also stream a couple of SEB Yellow Jackets’ games and at least one Portal Panthers’ game.
    Don Wilson will handle the play-by-play and our own Herald Sports Editor Chad Bishop will chime in with pre-game interviews, scouting reports on the players and will do his best to keep us from falling out of the press box window.
    As for me, I’ll be handling the color commentary, which means I’ll be providing some insight, cracking a few jokes and, of course, wearing my protective cup. In other words, just another day at the office.
The cool part is that anyone with a subscription to the Herald will have access to the streams. And if you don’t have a subscription, you can get access to all the games for an incredibly small fee. Even better, the first game (Statesboro vs. Josey) will be available for everyone to watch.
    So, we’ll see you on the digital gridiron.
    Phil Boyum was taken in the sixth round of the 1994 water boy draft. He can be reached at (912) 489-9454 or by e-mail at pboyum@statesboroherald.com.
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