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  • Last modified 25 days ago (Aug. 29, 2018)

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Let the games begin

With great pleasure, we this week honor those participating in fall sports — football, volleyball, and cross-country at all five school districts in the county.

At the college and professional level, the connection between sports and community has grown weak. Even in Champaign, Illinois, I can indulge in my pastime of watching Green Bay Packer football, Kansas Jayhawk basketball and, for reasons that elude all rationality, Kansas Jayhawk football, if you can call it that.

While college and pro teams attract virtual communities, local teams are part of our geographic identity. They serve a vital role in helping unite our communities, as evidenced by the many community-minded businesses that chose to support both our teams and our locally owned newspapers by advertising in our fall sports preview section and on our sports schedule pages.

We appreciate our advertisers’ patience and patronage as our own team does much as the teams we are featuring are doing in putting in herculean extra effort to come together and start the season while new and returning faces are not yet completely on board.

The importance of sports to community underscores why it’s also important to laud recent efforts to increase the number of contests county schools play against other schools in the county.

Time was, Marion, Centre, Peabody-Burns, and Hillsboro all were in the same league, reducing the need for travel and heightening the healthy rivalries and bragging rights that helped make our county strong.

Although it’s nice to occasionally step out of the region and test ourselves against more distant opponents, local rivalries that also included nearby Herington, Remington, Council Grove, and Chase County had advantages that went beyond eliminating the time and fuel needed to cart athletes and fans all across the state.

Athletes are our heroes, and despite various adages, heroes do best in their hometowns.

Still, we don’t want to stop with lauding merely athletes. Our schools also have music, drama, debate, and a whole host of other extracurricular activities — not to mention their real purpose: providing a first-rate education for the young people who soon will become our leaders not just on stages and playing fields but in workplaces and the institutions of society.

Sports and many other activities are our entertainment, and we love them for it. But as we think about the long-term future of our economy and our society, the intellectual, social, and leadership skills developed by the overall school experience, including but not limited to sports, are what will make or break us as we progress well into the 21st century.

Games are fun. They’re part of what makes us who we are. But fun and games are what we do today. Let’s not forget what we also need to do for tomorrow. Today’s games we hope to win but can afford to lose. Tomorrow’s are must-win contests for our county.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified Aug. 29, 2018

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