Recent Op-Eds

Life Lessons Learned from High School Football

By: Senator John Thune

August 27, 2010

The shoulder pads have been fitted, the jersey numbers have been selected, and the cleats have been broken-in. After weeks of sweating it out during August practices, high school student-athletes across South Dakota are gearing up for the start of the fall sports season.

When the bleachers fill up with proud parents and friends, these fans will not simply be witnessing the beginning of the season, but rather the culmination of weeks of hard work and perseverance on the practice fields and hours spent in the gym.

I remember this time of year quite well. My three brothers and I grew up playing football in Murdo. I was the quarterback for the Jones County High School Coyotes back then and have fond memories of my high school football days, specifically our rivalry with White River. There was nothing quite like the jitters you would get on opening night of the season-taking the first snap, calling the first play, making the first tackle. You could never fully plan for the unexpected on the field following the season-opening kickoff.

The long practices, the sweltering afternoons, the road trips, the big wins and tough losses, were all valuable experiences.

Athletics-as well as the many other student activities our high schools offer-provide our kids with lifelong lessons in teamwork and dedication. The competition and hard work required to succeed in extracurricular activities instills in students values and skills that will serve them far beyond their high school years. Responsibility to teammates and coaches ultimately teaches students the value of self-discipline. And even defeat on the field can teach our teenagers the value of perseverance in trying times.

So with a new season at hand, and undefeated records in the books, every team has the ability to prove their capabilities. I wish all student-athletes throughout our great state, a healthy and successful 2010 fall season.