Edson: High School Athletes: Go Out On A High Note

Here is one piece of advice for high school athletes as they face their final weeks of sports activity for the year: Keep it classy.

Borrowing from the classic words of Ron Burgundy, there is a simple truth to that statement and it has nothing to do with winning and losing.

Take it from someone who has been around high school athletes for nearly 60 years, people remember how you act as a person, not necessarily how you perform as an athlete.

When I’ve talked to athletes in the past, I’ve asked them to “go out on a high note.”

Some of them interpret that as winning an event.

“I can’t really control that,” they’ve told me.

But “going out on a high note” means paying attention to the things you do and say with your teammates, coaches and parents. Every athlete can control that.

As an example, I haven’t played high school sports in 45 years. Yet, I can remember to this day who my favorite teammates were. They went out of their way to be friendly, to give me a pat on the back when I needed it and to listen when I needed someone to talk to.

As a youth league coach for 21 years, I can remember who my favorite players were… and many of them weren’t the stars. They were the kids who always were good teammates, who helped me put away equipment after practice and took the time to thank me for coaching them after the season.

I’ve seen many of those players years later when they had grown up and were starting to raise families on their own.

Most of them have told me: “Coach, I don’t remember how many games we won and lost, but I remember you made it fun and I learned a lot about the fundamentals. The only thing I really remember about those years is the great snacks our parents brought after a practice or game.”

So when you think about it, the essence of sports is really about the essence of life: How you treat people. How you react to a challenge. What kind of friend or teammate you are.

It’s all really very simple.

And with only a few events left in the high school sports season, high school athletes just need to remember those basics, those fundamentals.

Go out on a high note.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.