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COMMENTARY: Pahrump Valley High could lose a sport

A concerned parent said to me, in less than a year Pahrump Valley High School could lose a sport.

How can that be? The high school has more than 1,300 students in its halls.

The sport is basketball and it has been in decline for the past few years. The decline is not because of the coaching, but because kids are afraid to come out and work hard or are afraid to come out and lose.

There were only an average of eight varsity boys playing on the team this year. But is basketball the only sport in danger? No, football could be in danger too. The numbers were low this year. An average of 28 students showed up this year for the varsity football team.

So what is happening to our sports in Pahrump? We are supposed to be building programs at the high school. We have all the youth programs out here,Pop Warner, Little League, AYSO, softball and even a wrestling and junior golf program.

I know I will be blasted for this, but take youth soccer. It’s designed as a recreational sport and at the end the kids get a participation trophy. It’s a great program and it teaches the kids the basics of soccer. I think that’s great if that’s all you want for your kids. But if you want champions and you want the kids to excel at a sport and be the best, then the kids need something else. They need a work ethic. Kids are afraid of working hard and why should they. We teach them at an early age they just need to show up and they get a trophy. But when they get to high school, the sports are not geared for that. Schools in Las Vegas want to win and they won’t just give you the championship, teams have to want it. I think our kids need to be taught how to work hard and this has nothing to do with “club sports”.

There are kids that work at their sport all year long and do it without club sports. There are fewer and fewer of these kids each year, but they exist. Junior golfer Austin Ancell is one of those kids and he was a state champion in golf at the high school last year.

An athlete that kids can learn from is Nocky Roach. He just passed away but was Pahrump’s best bowler. He worked at bowling. He didn’t just play once a week, he was in five bowling leagues and knew the value of hard work. (There is a Nocky Roach tribute this Friday).

To learn to be winners and to learn how to work hard, our kids need to learn how to lose. Why do they need to learn to lose? Simply because in life, not everyone is a winner. For example, not all of us get the $100,000 a year job.

We don’t see the military going out and just swearing in soldiers by just allowing everyone to join. There is a process and boot camp. Boot camp is designed to weed people out and to teach soldiers to work hard at something.

The bottom line is, one doesn’t develop this work ethic from participation sports. I am sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

A mom came up to me and told me about her experience at a karate tournament. On the awards table the tournament officials had at least 10 to 15 huge trophies that were bigger than all the rest and set apart from the normal trophies given to the first-place winners. So she asked the official behind the table how her kid could win those and they told her, “Oh that’s for the whiner families,” he said. “Every tournament we have at least one mother or dad who complains their kid didn’t get a trophy but they worked really hard. They finished in fifth place, but they worked hard. So we give them the whiner trophy.”

This mother’s daughter would never take the whiner trophy.

“My daughter finished first in two events and she wanted a third first place, but didn’t get the opportunity to compete due to a clerical mix-up. So there were no competitors in her category and she won by default, but refused the trophy because she didn’t earn it.”

I am sorry but the lack of a work ethic is affecting every sport, not just basketball. Kids would rather not play because they don’t know how to lose and they quit. I see more quitters every year, where kids are on the team, but the minute the going gets tough, they get going. This is what I call the weeniazation effect. We soon will have a town of weenie kids if we don’t get to work on this soon.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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