Holiday tourneys should be limited

Posted Dec. 22, 2008, at 11:14 p.m.

Merry Christmas!

Thoughts turn today to the seemingly ongoing battle each year to minimize the holiday of Christmas by reducing its significance with a plethora of activities, mostly sports-related, that take young people away from the home and put them into one athletic event or another.

Don’t worry. This won’t be some lengthy diatribe like the ones you can witness between the nightly news channels, batting this issue back and forth, looking for rating spikes all the while.

This column comes to you today to talk about family, the real missing ingredient when kids are required to be someplace but home.

Granted, the liberal nature of society and the accompanying pressure that athletic administrators operate under for scheduling to get games in and run all these holiday tournaments or the so-called Christmas Classics are enough to bother even the most organized man or woman.

What concerns this old coach is this: The pressure that all this holiday scheduling does to force family plans to change so Johnny and Susie can make that game or tournament without disrupting the home schedule or the coach’s schedule.

Granted, kids on high school teams will attempt to do both. Kids are usually out to please parents and coaches.

I speak firsthand about this stuff. I’ve been there, and I’ve even gone to the point of turning down invitations to these three-day things to give my players a chance to stay home with their loved ones. Hopefully, news out of Augusta that the Maine Principals’ Association is recommending that non-countable games such as holiday classics be reduced to two per year will be a good place to start.

Towards the end of my career, we accepted no invitations to play in the Holiday extravaganzas. I’ve hosted one or two of the things with much chagrin, I might add. I never liked them, and I never will.

I cringe at the very notion that college and pro sports play on Christmas and always boast of that special team dinner after the games have ended.

Christmas and Easter are the two holiest days of the year for those of Christian faith.

Honoring your own religious beliefs or someone else’s faith is pretty personal stuff. But placing events in your own school that affect the beliefs of others is a very slippery slope for school officials to walk.

If it were me, I’d give kids that precious time with relatives. I cringe when I think of such foolishness as open gym on Thanksgiving evenings or a PM shoot-around or un-required practice Christmas evening to get ready for the next big game.

30-Second Time Out

In addition to the recent MPA recommendation for the reduction of non-countable games to two, another early Christmas present came out of Augusta in the form of news that energy drinks – gosh, there are a lot of those – containing alcohol, such as the popular Sparks, are being outlawed.

Maine’s Attorney General Steve Rowe has led this charge for a number of years, and he should be saluted by parents and educators statewide, who are, no doubt, applauding this holiday week for his courage and concentration on this hot topic.

bdnsports@bangordailynews.net

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