Friday, June 29, 2018

Can breaking and filling hearts teach lessons?

A lot can happen in two years.

Two years ago as I left Stoney Creek High School, our Novi High School girls' soccer team was heartbroken. Defeated in a shootout in the state soccer semifinals. 

Two weeks ago as I left Williamston High School our Novi High School girls' soccer team was joyful. Victorious in a 1-0 Division One championship game! 
This picture shows the joy and heartbreak. One team celebrates a championship. One team suffers in defeat.

From time to time we debate the value of high school sports. Clearly at times there is an over-emphasis on winning. There are many examples of the adults who are in charge of high school athletics acting irresponsibly. There clearly is an actual financial cost to high school athletics.

But I believe in high school athletics. I've seen teams lose and I've seen teams win. But the value is not in the outcome. The value is in the process.

High school athletics teaches lessons that cannot be learned in a classroom. In the afterglow of the championship or in the crushing sadness of defeat the lessons may not be readily apparent. But both teams will at some point begin to recognize that success is difficult to achieve and not guaranteed.

This game came at the end of a long season for both teams. Each team had worked hard to get to this point. They had suffered through bad-weather games, difficult-field-condition games, very-good-opponent games. Through it all they had managed to find ways to win. And now they would play for a championship.

One team won. One team lost.

But valuable lessons were learned. Lessons about effort, commitment, teamwork, collaboration, sacrifice, and hard work are worth learning. These often are lessons that are not learned from a book. These are lessons that are learned from living life.

And often the lessons are learned in ways that can break or fill a heart.

Not every student participates in high school athletics. Participation in our high school marching band or in our robotics team or our quiz bowl team or our DECA and HOSA student organizations also help teach these lessons. Novi, like school districts all over Michigan and all over the United States, invest in comprehensive school athletic and extra-curricular programs because the investment helps our students learn important lessons.

Lessons that at times can break or fill a heart.