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Ira shared an inspiring story this week.
He witnessed something that we should all see and that we could all learn from.
Valwood and Valdosta girl’s volleyball teams went toe-to-toe in what sounded like an exciting matchup between two great programs.
What he saw, however, went beyond sets, spikes, serves and athletic competition.
Now, to be clear, these youngsters are the real deal.
They are great athletes competing at a very high level.
Anyone who thinks volleyball, softball and soccer are not every bit as competitive and athletically challenging as Friday night football under the lights is sorely mistaken. They are just different sports with different types of athletes, each excelling in their own right.
In fact, it is difficult to imagine a middle linebacker saving a point with a dig in a competitive volleyball match.
But that’s not what this conversation is all about.
What it is really about is sportsmanship, decency and humanity.
What Ira saw was fierce competition, followed by a generosity of spirit and honest to goodness expressions of friendship and even respect for their athletic opponents.
It is a great testimony to these female athletes, their coaches and the respective school systems when these young athletes can leave it all on the floor and then shake hands, hug, high five and congratulate the competition.
These kinds of stories are the great stories of youth sports.
The newspaper needs to do a better job of covering female sports and we also need to make sure that we share these kinds of positive stories about young people doing good things and showing the rest of us, by their examples, how to conduct ourselves.
It is obvious that coaches and youth leaders have real conversations about sportsmanship.
Sportsmanship involves learning how to lose.
It is probably even more about learning how to win.
Winning with humility may be even more challenging than losing with grace.
There is so much that can be learned from athletics about winning and losing and generally about life, the value of hard work and a solid work ethic, playing within the rules and adhering to fundamentals.
Every one of us could benefit from watching young people shake hands, hug and high five their opponents following a competitive athletic battle.
Then, we just need to find a way to infuse these principles of sportsmanship into our politics and Facebook posts.