Sometimes it’s as obvious as the nose on your face, unless you have a nose you don’t like. Schools from communities who expect to succeed…usually do!
I want to take the opportunity to thank the two dozen people from near and far who took the time to write and comment on last week’s column, Why Some Teams Win, And Some Don’t.
If you didn’t read it it’s in the archives from February 29, and while I’m not promoting it after the fact, I will take this space to call attention to the irrefutable fact supporting my opinion that kids who come from communities of hard work, patience, and expectation…with faith in a process…usually end up successful.
I’m writing today to share a little “I told you so”, as proven again Saturday night by the Jackson Center Lady Tigers, who defied the odds and untold nay-sayers throughout the season who never gave a thought to their earning a berth in next weekend’s state tournament in Columbus.
After all, who takes the bait, or the bet, that a team dominated twice in the regular season by perennial league favorite, and defending state champion (Ft. Loramie), would actually hang around to beat that same team in the regional finals?
Who can make sense of that?
How do you justify it?
And after the fact, how would you explain it to those people who wrote to Press Pros this week to dispute our stated opinion that some teams win simply because…sometimes it’s the best option they have?
It’s the reason why I never write the term “UPSET”, as frequently used to describe the surprise winner in competition. It’s unfair, and it’s untrue. But above all else, it’s the ultimate example of lazy – yes, lazy – journalism. If any kid does the work, and believes that he or she “can” win, is it not an insult to say that they never had a chance by calling it…an upset? Think about it.
But a number of people wrote this week to 1) disagree, 2) correct my cultural oversight, or 3) to declare that some schools can’t win because the deck is just too stacked against them.
“Your statements don’t take into account that small rural communities provide better home life and support,” said one. “They lack the hardships of those who don’t have that advantage.”
That statement, as it’s worded, makes no sense at all. You can’t have a better home life than what you have in Oakwood, and to my knowledge that community has never won a team championship in anything. Perhaps disadvantage and hardship is a good thing, if winning is your goal.
Syl, my friendly liberal ideologue antagonist from Dayton, protested, writing: “You completely ignore the fact of poverty and its impact on families whose priorities are simple, basic survival.”
A matter of perspective, Syl, given that both Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, two of the best basketball players in history, both grew up poor. One came from urban, inner-city Indianapolis, and the other from a rural coal-mining community called Cabin Creek, in West Virginia. One man’s poverty is another man’s push!
And how does she explain the success of inner-city powers Dayton Dunbar, or Columbus Africentric, and any given program with an overtone of something less than the American dream – just the will to succeed?
The National Basketball Association is full of such stories…of kids who escaped the deprivation of the inner-cities to achieve through basketball because it was their only, and best, alternative.
Ditto for professional football, and to a different course, professional baseball, whose rosters are stocked with players who escaped the poverty of Cuba, the Dominican, Puerto Rico and Venezuela through their ability to compete and win.
But in almost every one of the above examples there was a coach, a teacher, an adult, who took the time to coach and mentor. Another matter of perspective because that person does not always come in “official” capacity, like what you find in Versailles, Ft. Loramie, or yes, Jackson Center.
Scott Elchert is one of the most respected names you’ll find in area boys basketball, and he again has his team in Tuesday’s regional round , trying to earn a second trip to the Final Four in the last five years.
It’s no surprise that the Lady Tigers won a state title in volleyball last November when you consider the consistency of that effort and commitment. Their coach, Kim Metz, has had them knocking on the door for several years.
And Scott Doseck? Well, I saw his basketball girls lose to both Minster and Loramie during the regular season, but he never hung his head. That part that I wrote on February 29 about hard work, commitment, and expectation? Well, I’ve never heard in anyone from Jackson Center justify coming up short by saying “we did our best”, or “we tried our hardest”.
No, in Dosick’s case they just kept playing, working, and believing. It’s not cliche’, it’s the truth.
I don’t know much about the per capita income in Jackson Center. Most people farm, or work at Airstream, I suspect. I don’t equate it with Upper Arlington, but it doesn’t matter, anyway. Everybody works, and everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time, which is exactly the mindset you need when you go to the state tournament and play to win.
Look, the Lady Tigers are a great “I told you so”, punctuating the point made last week – that to be the best you expect to beat the best…the Loramie’s, Versailles, and Annas. Where it’s expected that you play to win, year after year after year.
It’s the only thing I particularly remember about Al Davis, the former coach and owner of the Oakland Raiders. I was never a fan of the Raiders, but I remember his coining the phrase, “Just win, baby”. That was the one and only expectation within the organization…like at Marion Local, Versailles, Ft. Loramie and Coldwater.
And for the latest “I told you so”…why not now, Jackson Center?