Setting sights a little higher, pushing a little harder

Posted 08.07.10

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Quebec Summer Games are in full swing across our city, including here in Aylmer. This is a grand opportunity for all of us to catch great competitors in action, no matter their age -- and to get a glimpse of Quebec's future Olympians. Anyone who has the time should take in a few games, trails, races, and matches -- there may never be such a convenient chance.

The real value of the Games is not the money brought into Aylmer by team members, parents, and tourists. It's not the temporary visibility Gatineau will gain -- our city's 15 minutes of media fame -- and it is certainly not the kudos organizers and political leaders will heap upon each other for the Games' success.

These all have a value, but compared to the life-shaping benefits the Games will give the athletes, the gala celebrations and partying of the opening and closing are mere icing on the cake. Every youth who competes will return home with a profound experience he or she will draw on for the rest of their lives, and an experience that will shape all that they do.

This is no exaggeration.

Amateur sports allow each girl and boy to test themselves, to put their strength and speed, skills and alertness alongside the best of our province. They will be able to see the strength, endurance, courage, and skill that they have already built up in their young lives through their dedication and training. They will learn lessons of recovery, or overcoming adversity, and of correcting mistakes. They will learn grace in both victory and defeat.

Our youths are learning the proper use and the benefit of a competitive drive and an aggressive spirit. They are learning that the higher they stretch their goals, the greater become their accomplishments -- whether they arrive here from downtown Montreal or from a rural crossroads. They will use these strengths for the rest of their lives, pursuing their careers, educations, dreams and personal ambitions.

It is almost a clich&eaqute; to say that youths need to be involved, need to have goals, and need a positive, supportive environment. This is the signal benefit of sports. Not only is hard work and persistence demanded, but healthy living, careful eating, self-respect, and team spirit are elements that sports bring to the lives of our next generation.

We should be proud of our kids. And it is events like the Summer Games that show us the real, solid qualities of our young people. Too many negative images and degenerate role models surround us, especially our kids.

Sports at this level of competence can assure us that entertainment-driven stereotypes and media cynicism are only a small part of our society. That's a great made-in-Gatineau lesson for all of us, not just for the kids competing. It's never to late to set our sights a little higher and to push ourselves a little further.

Copyright © 2010 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/08.10