Olivero: Success of Summit High athletic seasons shows why sports are essential | SummitDaily.com

Olivero: Success of Summit High athletic seasons shows why sports are essential

Banta Sylla, No. 3, joins the Tigers in celebration of Summit's win over Battle Mountain on Feb. 25 at Summit High School in Breckenridge.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Sports sometimes can be viewed as a nonessential amenity that can be added onto the core of society and community. At times, I have viewed sports in this fashion through my reporting and editing career, sometimes dismissing the importance of sports compared to, say, the arenas of politics, the economy and the environment.

But in the wake of soaking in the living, breathing, in-person experiences of covering Summit High School sports in recent weeks, I do believe sports are an essential part of community, society and life — perhaps most especially during an unprecedented pandemic.

Personal bias as the Summit Daily News sports editor aside, I feel myself and other members of this sports-loving community in recent weeks have seen firsthand what sport brings to our communal way of life in Summit County. And that goes for not just playing, but also the ability to watch and discuss sports.

Even if some sporting events are inconsequential in the grand scheme of life’s daily grind, it’s the sensibilities, behavior and characteristics sporting events cultivate that truly bring out the best in people.

Sports unify individuals in divided times. Sports help people focus on what they can change. In tough times, many people feel like they can’t control other elements of life’s struggle.

I saw this firsthand after a senior night home game for one of the Tigers winter sports teams. After the senior student-athletes were recognized for their contributions to the Tigers athletic community, a father came up to me and simply said, “This changed everything.”

What the father was referring to was how the return of the high school sports season drastically improved the quality of life not only for his child, but also for the parents and families as a whole. The ability for the kid to return to the field of play brought a sense of normalcy at the end of a year when most every other element of life was suddenly foreign.

What the father said might sound simple. But it was the look in his eyes and the tender tenor of his voice through which I understood what the return to sports meant for our families — the lifeblood of our community.

The entities and individuals who came together to make the winter sports season happen should be commended, namely Summit High School Principal Tim Ridder, Director of Athletics Travis Avery and Tigers coaches. They worked long hours while implementing and enforcing strict COVID-19 protocols. In the end, all Tigers varsity teams, support staffs and parents made it through the season safely.

Two months ago, I doubted whether the season would take place considering school had just partially returned to in-person classrooms. But in a short amount of time, the Summit High School sports community resoundingly succeeded.

That didn’t come without being willing to take on sacrifice and risk. As a result, the Tigers sports teams will benefit. As a result, the children and community are better off.

In the grand scheme, that’s what matters. And that’s precisely why sports are essential.

Antonio Olivero

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