High school activities unite communities

Published 3:00 am Friday, August 18, 2017

Tailgates. Pep rallies. Friday night lights. The new school year is here! That’s exciting news for student-athletes and high school sports fans alike.

Research shows that being a student-athlete is about a lot more than fun and games.  It teaches important life lessons, too. In fact, high school athletes not only have higher grade-point averages and fewer school absences than non-athletes, they also develop the kind of work habits and self-discipline skills that help them become more responsible and productive community members.

This year, the NFHS and AHSAA plan to emphasize to our students, parents, coaches, officials and fans that high school educational-based athletics is more than a game. It is about relationships with friends and foes. The contests are the culmination of much hard work, sacrifice and provide memories that will remain with us for the rest of our lives. The AHSAA will be using the hashtag #MoreThanAGame as a reminder of how dedicated our students, coaches and administrators are to academics, athletics, the team and community.

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We also want them to remember how much enjoyment we all take from that hard work, whether it be as part of the team, band, cheerleaders, or being students, parents and fans all supporting their school with pride.

Attending high school sporting events teaches important life lessons, too.    

Among them, it teaches that we can live in different communities, come from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures, cheer for different teams and still have a common bond.

That’s why attending the activities hosted by your high school this fall is so important. It’s not only an opportunity to cheer for your hometown team, it is also an opportunity to celebrate our commonality.

The bond we share is mutually supporting the teenagers in our respective communities. We applaud their persistence, tenacity, preparation and hard work, regardless of the color of the uniform they wear. We acknowledge that education-based, high school sports are enhancing their lives – and ours – in ways that few other activities could. We agree that, regardless of what side of the field we sit on, attending a high school sporting event is an uplifting, enriching, family-friendly experience for all of us. 

Many of the high schools in our state lie at the heart of the communities they serve.   They not only are educating our next generation of leaders, they also are a place where we congregate, where people from every corner of town and all walks of life come together as one. At no time is this unity more evident than during a high school athletic event.

This is the beginning of a new school year. Opportunities abound in the classroom and outside it. Let’s make the most of them by attending as many athletic events at the high school in our community as possible. We want every student to have fun. Your presence enhances the opportunities and experiences for those you support.

Turn on the lights, and let the games begin!   

Steve Savarese is the executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association, founded in 1921, is a private agency organized by its member schools to control and promote their athletic programs. The purpose of the AHSAA is to regulate, coordinate and promote the interscholastic athletic programs among its member schools, which include public, private and parochial institutions.