Off Season Efforts By Athletes Important

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Readers are supplying plenty of feedback on a story and Extra Points column published in the June 28 edition of the Payson Roundup.

The story and column centered on Payson High School football coach Jake Swartwood and his growing frustrations over the failure of prospective players to commit to the off season program.

Not a single reader disagreed with the story’s premise — that participation in summer weight training and passing league 7-on-7 practices — is crucial to success next season.

But, a reader — a parent of an athlete — pointed out that if a student-athlete commits to play a sport, it’s their mothers and fathers who have a parental responsibility to encourage their teens to participate in the off season programs.

His reasoning is that as parents we check to see if our children’s homework is being done, if they are enrolled in the proper classes and if they are maintaining good grades.

“We encourage them to do all those things,” the father said. “So why are we not checking to see if they are living up to the commitments involved with extracurricular activities?”

He concluded, “If more parents demanded their children participate (in off season activities) once they’ve made the decision to play (sports), coach Swartwood and the other coaches wouldn’t be having these problems.”

Another parent questioned head coaches saying they must take the lead and make sure they are present at every minute of every off season practice or training session to set an example for the student-athletes.

“It sends the wrong message if the head coach isn’t there or just turns (the practice) over to an assistant or volunteer,” the parent said.

Some others who called and e-mailed, claimed the lack of commitment is due to a modern age cultural demise in which electronic gadgets, games and television are more important to teens than participation in sports and activities.

I asked what the solution was, and the reply was “Family values. Take away the PlayStations and encourage healthy sports and activities.”

The caller wrapped up the conversation by saying, “You know, sweat and breathing hard are not bad things.”

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