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Parents Blog

Susan Boyd blogs on USYouthSoccer.org every Monday.  A dedicated mother and wife, Susan offers a truly unique perspective into the world of a "Soccer Mom". 

 

Hard Hitting

Susan Boyd

The tackle made national news. Michigan quarterback Shane Morris caught a Minnesota defender’s helmet under his chin and went down flat. He didn’t move for several seconds, and when he got up he was wobbly and unable to hold himself up. Yet he stayed on the field one more play before he was pulled. Even more troubling, a few plays later there he was taking the snap. The question on every news report: How did this happen? The coach said he doesn’t wear a headset, saw Morris wave him off, and thought his stumbling was due to an earlier ankle sprain. Michigan’s athletic director blamed it on poor communication and confusion on the sidelines. Yet, everyone saw the hit, saw the aftermath, and saw Morris stagger. It was broadcast on the jumbo screen more than once, and more importantly Morris’ teammates knew how the hit had affected him. So it’s natural that many viewers and sportscasters express cynicism towards the excuses offered by staff and administrators.

In the aftermath of the national hue and cry, Michigan instituted a new policy. Instead of having a neurologist just on the sidelines, they will now have one up in the command booth. I’m not sure how a doctor two hundred feet above the field will be able to do the nuanced assessment necessary to determine if a player should be examined or not. Nevertheless it’s an acknowledgement of how serious playing an injured athlete can be. It also brings home the point that has eluded too many NCAA Division I football programs: this is only a game and the emphasis should be on the “student” part of student-athlete.

When college players began demanding to be paid a salary based on the huge profits NCAA and the colleges were making, they were reacting to an evolution in amateur sports that has gone from absolutely no endorsements, no profits, no big budgets to exactly the opposite. They felt they deserved a piece of that financial pie since it was rolled out on their backs. The unfortunate fact is that we are witnessing the reason coaches are less willing to protect their players when they feel the injury isn’t severe enough. They are under pressure to win because winning creates a deeper revenue stream and winning insures their job. It’s probably no coincidence that Michigan is at the bottom of the Big Ten conference with an 0-2 conference record and an overall 2-4 record, so the coach’s job is in jeopardy along with the program’s prestige. So sticking with a quarterback who may not be great or healthy but is better than the alternatives becomes the coach’s best option to secure a win. The players, seeing this push to preserve and grow profits, understand that they may end up with a career-ending injury in the drive for money. So they want to share in the windfalls because it may be their only chance. It becomes a vicious cycle. Schools want to protect their financial bounty, in doing so they ask young players to take risks that could eliminate them from the pros, so players want money up front and leave themselves vulnerable to serious injury, which could endanger a winning season. We see the same scenario in the pros where bonuses are based on things like consecutive games played and tough hits placing those athletes in at risk situations. The big difference is that pro players are usually over 21 and have signed monetary contracts while college players are usually still in their teens and may or may not even have a scholarship.

When Shane Morris waved off the coaches, indicating that he felt he was fine to play, he was probably motivated by two things: first, he felt he was the one who needed to lead his team even though they were down 30-7 when he got his bell rung and second, players are taught to tough it out if they want to remain starters. Coaches make it clear that mental toughness is as important as physical toughness. So injured players tend to override pain with mental fortitude and fight through the damage. The Monday following the Morris incident, Today Show viewers were asked to weigh in on the question “Who should decide if a player can continue in a game?” The results showed 64 percent said “the coach” but surprisingly 36 percent said “the player.” Letting an injured player decide if he or she is able to return to the game is like asking a drunk driver if he or she can operate a motor vehicle. Judgment is impaired by a number of factors. Finding out how much pain a player is in or whether or not they have limited movement is part of the assessment. But the decision should be solely up to a trainer or doctor, not a coach and not a player. If the medical personnel clear a player then it becomes the coach’s along with the player’s decision.

Luckily on this point, soccer and other less attended sports at NCAA schools have an advantage. There aren’t huge sums of money riding on wins. Certainly prestige is important to play for, and water polo, soccer, and lacrosse teams to name just a few of the scores of underrepresented college sports regularly play for honor and glory. However, the coaches can err to the side of safety without sacrificing any monetary benefit a win would have for the school. The plain facts are that the big business of college football and men’s basketball have laid the ground for ignoring the overall safety of those players. Several plays before his concussion, Morris got clipped on his ankle, suffering a high sprain. He spent the entire rest of the game hobbling, wincing every time he was hit. In fact, several commentators argued that he got his head battered because he could not get out of the way fast enough due to his ankle injury, and watching the play I could see a case for that. That he was still in the game after injuring his ankle so severely begs the question — how bad does an injury need to be to sideline a youth player (and I consider college players still youth)? Fans have a role in this process because we stand by our alma maters and our local colleges with a fierceness of competitive spirit that encourages athletic programs to get wins at any cost just to preserve their honor. My graduate alma mater is the University of Oregon, which has a national football reputation. My husband is a bigger fan than I am even though he never attended the school. I know how much a loss devastates him. Multiply that disfavor by a million, and you have the makings of serious pressure on the school to succeed. I really admired Chip Kelly for pulling key players off the field due to either injury or discipline even in significant games. Of course, it’s easier to do that if you keep winning, which he did due to a deep bench. Other schools aren’t so fortunate and really rely on the starters to get them through the four quarters.

Within the culture of toughing it out and winning at any price, we have to attend to the youth players and their safety. You’re not an over-protective parent when it comes to injuries that can ultimately limited an athlete’s playing life, not to mention their off-field life. It’s our job as parents to be vigilant over our kids’ health. Michigan has lots of good football in its future and hopefully Shane Morris will be a part of that success, but he can’t be if he is too beat up to continue. Despite battles for ranking, conference or league dominance, and championship contests in the end it’s got to be about the players and their safety. They can possess drive, pride, and skills that make them want to over-stretch, so it’s the job of parents, coaches, and administrators to protect their bodies and minds while giving them the wisdom to make the proper decisions once they evolve into adults. 
 

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Game Plan

Susan Boyd

Back in the day, when the boys were first starting in soccer, Smash Mouth released the song “All Star,” whose chorus announced:  “Hey now, you’re an All Star, get your game on, go play.” Even though the song was actually about rock musicians, the beat and the chorus fed right into the pre-teen boys’ sense of “go get-em.” We’d crank the car radio up with the bass on high so that the steel doors shook, and we’d sing at the top of our lungs bouncing to the beat. By the time we hit the field parking lot, the boys were ready to take on any opponent — pumped up and ready to strut their stuff. I doubt the ritual had any real effect on wins and losses, but it sure was fun to watch the cars around us as they stared at the Rockmobile and the cavorting inhabitants.

Silly traditions like that make the game so much more fun and an experience rather than just an event. Any time I hear that song, I’m transported to the Toyota Sienna (which we still own) and the joy of a great fall day stretching out in front of us that included soccer matches, raking leaves, and upsetting the neighbors as the car woofers assaulted the air around us. I know I’m always going on about the game being fun, but because these years last such a short time, it’s important to pack in as many memories and joy as we can. Too soon soccer can become a business with goals that aren’t made on the field.  Stressing out over state, regional and national championships, making the high school varsity team, getting recruited by a college, even moving on to pro quickly overrides the fun part of any youth sport. 

I want to encourage all parents to create a game plan for those Saturday outings rather than just getting to the match on time and then heading home. Use soccer as the backdrop for family memories. For example, just down the road from our club’s fields was a farm stand. Every October they would dress it up for Halloween, complete with a corn maze, pumpkin patch, fun animal rides, and caramel apple making. We’d plan on going after one weekend’s matches and just have a blast doing all the activities. When I look at the pictures from those outings I have to laugh because there will be Robbie riding a camel in his soccer uniform and Bryce triumphantly emerging from the maze, his arms in a victory pose revealing his team jersey logo. Those pictures document not only the boys’ growth, but the evolution of their uniforms.  

The 50’s-themed drive-in in the next community north of us would close for the winter, so we’d always make one last pilgrimage after a soccer game. We all got chocolate shakes — the really thick kind made with four scoops of ice cream — cheeseburgers, fries, and one order of cheese curds (it is Wisconsin, after all). That evening, mixed with all the grass and dirt stains on their uniforms, I’d have to pre-treat the splotches of chocolate shake. Occasionally the stains wouldn’t all come out, so as they ran on the field there would be a subtle reminder of last weekend’s adventure.

Getting to indoor soccer in the winter was an adventure in itself due to slippery roads, blizzards, and the long distances to the facilities. We could go by freeway, but that wasn’t as fun as taking the back roads where we could see plenty of wildlife. We’d play animal bingo with some pretty unusual choices like turkeys, donkeys, and foxes. But someone always managed to win before we got to the facilities. The route also included a “Hobbit House” that someone built long before the Peter Jackson trilogies. It was a bit of a distance off the road so everyone had to stay alert to locate it. With a shout of “Hobbit” we’d all peer out the window and “oooh” and “aaahh” over the architecture that was really detailed and charming with a thatched roof and partially constructed into a hillside. We talked about maybe going up to the door one day to ask for a closer look, but we all chickened out every time we passed.

Traveling to tournaments, we tried to find some ways to make it even more of an adventure. When going to St. Louis, we took a longer route through Illinois so we could go to Metropolis, the home of Superman. There’s a giant statue and a great little park where we had lunch and a collectibles shop that was dark, musty, chaotic, and the perfect spot for young boys to explore. I can’t remember what they bought, but they had $5 each and spent nearly an hour sorting through comic books, action figures, weapons, and toys before settling on their “find.” Locating off-beat destinations became a family obsession with each person trying to outdo the other with the bizarre and the entertaining. We have seen chickens playing tic-tac-toe, a wildlife park dedicated to small exotic animals (like a capybara) where petting and/or holding was encouraged – including the snakes and reptiles. We visited, but did not sit in, the world’s biggest rocking chair, and let odd creatures scale our arms and hair at an insect zoo. Today, with the internet so detailed, finding these little treasures is less time-consuming, but fun to research nonetheless. It’s also a great geography lesson that the kids learn as they look along a route for something fun to do.

Making a “game plan” helps include every family member in the occasion. It can be difficult when you have two, three, even four kids spread out across your area each with his or her own match. Yet that’s what makes a plan so important and special. It’s a way to gather, share the various plays of each game, and focus on something for the family to do together rather than only the dispersal of the members across different soccer fields. You can plan a hike, go fishing, fly kites, picnic along a river, canoe, take in a movie, go to a trampoline park, and even paint some pottery. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. You don’t have to break the budget either as there are terrific fun activities that cost nothing or nearly nothing. We once spent an afternoon hitting two buckets of golf balls at a local driving range. All we had to pay for were the balls, which were $5 a bucket, clubs were provided for free. Since the boys took forever to line up their shots, the buckets lasted over two hours. Again the photos of that outing show the boys dressed in their soccer uniforms.

I’m not suggesting that every game has to be the portal to an extraordinary day. Certainly, we have lots of things we need to take care of at home that don’t allow for extended excursions every weekend. But you can still make some special memories with a favorite song or track of songs going to and from the field, playing car games, stopping on the way home for an ice cream or fruit from a roadside stand, bringing signs to the game, or spraying the kids with silly string as they exit the field. It’s really easy to add a bit of pizzazz to the routine. For a Halloween game, the players all sported orange hair thanks to a mom who brought a spray can of hair color. Few if any of us remember who won, but we all remember the hair. Washable tattoos can be fun — although some parents may object so check first. But lining up to receive your “warrior” tattoo before a match can be a lasting memory and a Kodak moment.

Soccer matches should be fun unto themselves, but spicing them up a bit gives them the added pleasure of being a singular memory occasion. I have four kids with a big gap between the first two and the second duo, so I learned from experience how fleeting the time is when they welcome magic. All too quickly they get jaded, hanging out with cool friends who couldn’t be bothered riding a llama. Seize that magical time with both hands and enjoy it while it lasts. You’ll have lots of joyful, memory-filled experiences all through their lives, but that really young age, when life is so wondrous and unfathomable doesn’t last long. Creating memories during that time might seem overwhelming with all the day-to-day demands of just getting homework done, laundry finished, carpool run, sports and hobby schedules, and sleep. So piggy-backing some adventure on the things you already have to do, like going to a game, can make those minutes blossom into a special memory and maybe even a series of photos with your kids in uniform.

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All About the Money

Susan Boyd

My granddaughter thought it would be a good idea to broadcast all youth sports games so moms and dads who can’t attend the matches can still see their children play. She’s 8, and I’m betting before she’s a parent that’s exactly what will happen. Right now, we have any number of ways to watch games virtually, such as iScore and Gametracker, which create a play by play of a game that can be sent via a link to family and friends. Likewise, there is invariably a team parent who tapes the games and posts them on sites like YouTube. It shouldn’t be too long before technicians figure out how to video and broadcast youth games live. However, when they develop the means to transmit games we begin to cross that threshold into the “professionalism” of youth sports with issues of licensing, costs of delivery, private transmission services, and the possibility of charging for things that are now free. What will technology mean for youth sports?

We don’t have to look far to see the impact of monetary and legal factors on amateur sports. For example, we have a baseball team in my town that plays in one of the summer college leagues. These leagues provide an opportunity for college players to keep up their skills while playing with and against top players in the sport. This particular team is owned by a former Brewer, Robin Yount, and is run like a professional team. There is a mascot, a wide-ranging concessions stand, promotions, corporate sponsors, season ticket holders, team wear, souvenirs, and VIP seating for food and beverage. The money from sales and sponsorships goes into the pockets of the investors. None goes to the players because NCAA eligibility rules state that players can’t profit in any way from their sport. In fact the team must actively recruit host families for team members and these families are responsible for housing and feeding the players. Soccer has the same summer leagues for college players with the USL Premier Development League and the National Premier Soccer League (which pays players willing to forgo their amateur status) allowing NCAA soccer players to keep up their competitive edge during the summer. The United States Adult Soccer Association sponsors some regional and state amateur teams, which participating soccer clubs usually call their Majors team. These can be a mix of college and former pro players, but are completely unpaid. The level of investors in team franchise in these soccer leagues hasn’t reached that of Yount, but I’m positive we’re not far from seeing that happen.

Developing the ability for individual youth teams and clubs to stream their games opens a Pandora’s Box of concerns. While it seems as naively wonderful as my granddaughter’s point of view that loving parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends could see every child’s game, the tough truth is someone will see the opportunity for a profit. Once that happens, companies will attempt to get government regulations, broadcast licenses, software dominance and blocking programs in their portfolio to enforce us all to pay them a fee just to watch our 6-year-old cavort on a soccer pitch. Just consider the professionalizing of high school and college games that has grown in the last two decades into multi-million dollar businesses. My graduate school was University of Oregon, home of the Ducks. I get daily emails from the bookstore touting all the new products that have been released for Duck fans. Every item is licensed by the NCAA, which gets a cut of the sale price. On the flip side, consider EA Sports NCAA Football, which will not have a 2015 edition after a class action suit by Ed O’Bannon and others against EA and the NCAA over the use of their uncompensated likenesses. The NCAA declined to renew their licensing agreement with EA when it expired in June this year in attempt to diminish the effects of the lawsuit. In the meantime, EA Sports settled for $40 million with NCAA football, basketball and baseball players, whose likenesses appeared in video games from 2003 to the present. The lawsuit against the NCAA will add millions to that number should the plaintiffs win that as well. Just Friday, the NCAA board of governors cleared the way for colleges to pay their players by allowing the top five conferences to submit possible rule changes that would include a pay option. I haven’t even touched on the threatened lawsuits over TV licensing profits. How would these affect the convoluted profit formulas for the type of broadcast my granddaughter suggests? Would there be residuals for any replay of a game? Will players all have to sign contracts before they join any youth team, school band, drama club, or any number of opportunities for streaming an event? Will a network control youth sport broadcasts requiring fees for every game we watch? Before you scoff at the ridiculousness of this situation, think about how unbelievable it seemed just a decade ago that any college player would be compensated for their college “career.” Would Rudy have refused to enter the field for that last game at Notre Dame without a media contract? Not then, but maybe now.

While we have this ongoing debate as to whether or not the NCAA should unionize their sports teams and pay them, we are ignoring other aspects of youth sports that provide an uncontested and substantial return to corporations who depend on youth sports for a significant portion of their revenue. Uniform manufacturers purposely retire designs after two or three years on the market in planned obsolescence. Players must purchase new uniform packages frequently, having nothing to do with growth spurts or wear and tear. Even socks get redesigns! Puma, adidas, Nike, Reebok, and Athletico are insuring a steady market. Manufacturers spend millions to develop and market “trends” to youth players that bring in exponential profits. In baseball, it’s the “power” neck chains. In soccer, it’s wristbands for the boys and hair bands for the girls. Don’t get me started on cleats that sprout a new look every six months. Add in the World Cup with flashy footwear rushing around the field, and you have the equation for tens of thousands of new shoe purchases. Youth sports is big business.

We saw the evolution of the term “amateur” in the Olympics over the last two decades. The 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team pulled all its players from the top college hockey squads. Now, 34 years later you’ll find only NHL players. Basketball’s “Dream Team” is culled from the NBA. Even sports that don’t have professional leagues produce athletes with huge endorsement contracts, a major taboo just a few Olympics ago. Therefore, it’s not such a stretch to see professionalism trickle down through the amateur ranks. With all the talk of paying NCAA athletes, the money that can be made off of many sports events even at the youth level, and the possibility for expanding the markets where profits can be made, I don’t think it will be too long before “amateur” will have to require an entirely different definition or not be attached to sports at all. I’d love to be able to see all my kids’, grand kids’, nieces’ and nephews’ games. My niece just won gold at the U.S. Rowing Association Club National Races in Knoxville, Tenn., for a pair boat (two-person). My brother sent me a link with her winning race. The camera didn’t focus on her and her partner until near the end of the race, but it was still a thrill to watch her compete and win. I didn’t need a professional production to share in the celebration. I’m hoping the next time I get sent a link, I won’t have to use my credit card before I can open it.

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Taking It on the Chin

Susan Boyd

Good Grief! The Brewers can’t put a win together and have now fallen to second place in the NL Central Division. My grandson’s high school varsity football team lost badly last Friday night. Then he played Saturday morning on his freshman team and suffered a 47-21 loss. Manchester United seems to be continuing last year’s lackluster effort in the new English Premier League season. But none of this compares to some of the worst (best?) losing records in history. The 2003 Detroit Tigers lost 118 out of 162 games. In the 1972-73 season, the Philadelphia 76ers endured 73 losses out of 82 games. From 1992 to 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates notched 17 consecutive losing seasons. On Jan. 13, 2007, the California Institute of Technology’s basketball team beat Bard College 81-52, a resounding victory made even sweeter because it snapped a 207 game losing streak that dated back to 1996. I’ve written about winning the last two weeks, however most of us find our kids on teams that toggle between wins and losses. So we really understand the lows nearly as much as we do the highs.

Accepting that losses happen isn’t the same thing as handling them gracefully. I actually think we remember the details of the losses better than the details of a win. We have to rationalize how our team managed to come up short, so we concentrate on the bad calls, the unfair play, the unlucky bounces, and the tough competition. The “if only’s” become the foundation of any post-game conversation. Losses can also send us into a tailspin of funk where we focus so much on the outcome that we forget any semblance of enjoyment. The younger players generally bounce back from a loss, especially if an after-game snack is available. They have more of an immediate investment in any moment getting attracted by whatever shiny object appears in their frame of reference. We parents tend to dwell on losses trying to make sense of them, and certainly dejection looms large when losses come in a string. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum having lived with a spectacular run of wins and a depressing slew of losses, so I’ve seen the reactions. We parents generally fall into one of four groups, each of which helps us address our disappointments and frustrations.

The first group is what I call the Eeyores, those parents who can’t see anything but the dark clouds on the horizon. Eeyore’s gloomy ruminations are famous in Winnie the Pooh stories.  His idea of optimism is that the worst hasn’t happened yet.  “It’s snowing still…and freezing…However we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”  Parents in this group see a loss as just a precursor to worse outcomes.  “This was an easy team, and we lost.  Think what will happen next week when we meet the league champion.”  “We were lucky to avoid major injuries, but they’re inevitable given how weak the team is.” Even the coach of Cal Tech after the losing streak ended exhibited his Eeyore. He gave into his opinion that despite the win, the future was still bleak, and in the post-game speech went with “Everyone outmatches us in size, speed and athletic ability.  Everyone.” That’s classic Eeyore – embrace the worst.

The second group is “The Defiant Ones.” Unable to accept a loss, these parents insist the team was robbed. “We only lost because the referees were lousy.” “The long grass slowed our game down.” “The other team played dirty.” Rather than figure out what could be improved, these parents argue that the damage was externally visited upon the team. They play the “if only” game better than anyone. If only the refs had been fairer, if only the weather hadn’t delayed the game, if only there hadn’t been mud puddles in front of the goal, and on and on and on, never dealing with the realities. Defiant Ones don’t just rationalize, they out and out argue that the result was based on unfair conditions. The Brewers have been on a losing skid not capitalizing on players in scoring position, fielding badly, and exhibiting lackluster pitching. So I was a bit surprised when the manager, Ron Roenicke, blamed the home plate umpire for the Brewer’s loss to San Diego.  He argued that the umpire, “terrible behind home-plate,” forced the Brewer closer to give up a home run that tied the game in the 9th. San Diego ultimately won. Roenicke complained that the umpire called balls on two pitches which were clearly strikes, compelling his closer to “have to pitch” to the batter. I’m not convinced anyone other than the pitcher was for letting loose a fat one. Of course, had he walked the batter, it might have been less risky than what happened. The pitch was the responsibility of the closer, the catcher, and the manager, not the umpire.  Still, Roenicke’s interview after the game showed that his defiance was in full bloom. He laid the blame for the loss clearly on the shoulders of the umpire.

Down three goals with 20 seconds left, the third group, “The Cheerleaders,” are at their finest. No matter how insurmountable the odds, the cheerleaders keep urging the team onward. They handle losses by hoping for a miracle and encouraging the team to do the same. These are the parents who keep up the positive banter on the sidelines clear to the bitter end. When the kids come off the field, no matter how badly they played, the parents tell them it’s okay and they did great. Rather than let anyone point out what might be adjusted to create a better outcome next time, these parents are content to stick with the status quo, put the best face on it and keep the kids happy. In their world, bringing up improvements implies someone failed so we just need to clap and believe in fairies. Although negative criticism isn’t beneficial, not providing any criticism is equally unproductive. Cheerleaders concentrate so much on making kids feel good, that the kids can’t have honest disappointment. It’s difficult to improve if a team is constantly told that inadequate play is supportable without modification. 

An offshoot of The Cheerleaders and the opposite of The Eeyores are “The Pollyannas.” It’s not so much that they constantly tout everything as wonderful like Cheerleaders, but that they pick one positive aspect and use it to overshadow everything bad no matter how much more honest the bad is compared to the good. Their excessive optimism refuses to accept the facts of an unfortunate situation. In the book, Pollyanna is famous for playing the “Glad Game,” opting to find something to be happy about no matter how dire the situation. Pollyannas are nearly as fatalistic in their positivity as the Eeyores are in their negativity. They sugarcoat losses to the point that you can’t even recognize them as shortfalls for the team. When the team loses, the loss is pushed aside in favor of some sliver of good news. I call them the “at least” crowd. At least the uniforms looked good. At least the rain held off. At least there were bleachers. No matter how trivial the point, these parents opt for a weak silver lining. It’s a sunny outlook but it also ironically clouds the work a team needs to do to create a win. Pollyannas don’t give kids a chance to mourn a loss or talk about it because they are too busy touting some inconsequential piece of the game that went well. 

Aspects of each of these groups can be useful and even welcomed when a team experiences a devastating loss or a string of losses. Being honest about faults like Eeyore helps kids look at a game without minimizing inadequate play. Giving kids a chance to vent with defiance at how unfair some of the game actually was, allows them to distance themselves from the lousy outcome until they are ready to talk about it. Cheering them on, despite the futility of hope, shows kids that we support them no matter what. Finding the good in any disappointment allows kids to take something positive from the experience. The danger comes when we focus too much on any of these types, giving into the group behavior as a way to avoid dealing with a loss and learning from it. Some losses do roll off the backs easily. Losses can shape the character of our players by teaching them how to deal with defeats and to grow from them. 

Last Friday night two Texas high schools, Greenville and North Garland, competed against one another, neither of which had won a game last season. Greenville actually has a 40-game losing streak, one of the longest in Texas history, meaning that many seniors could graduate from the school without ever enjoying a win. No parent would ever wish that experience on their child in the name of forming character. We don’t need to be completely beat down to appreciate a win from a loss. I’m sure those kids will welcome some Cheerleaders and Pollyannas on their sidelines and around the dinner table. Losses should be a learning experience (as well as wins), yet we can help mitigate the sting a bit without muddying the waters too much. By the way, Greenville finally broke its 40-game losing streak with a 24-21 win over North Garland. So deal with that, Eeyore.

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