weather icon Clear

Good sportsmanship serves us well in life

Good sportsmanship is hard to define. Its hallmarks include winning without gloating, losing gracefully and respecting everyone involved, including opponents, coaches, officials, fans and administrators. In the heat of competition, will your better nature rise to manifest the good sport in you? Or will you instead listen to the negative voices and be a poor sport? Many youths and adults in our town recently had a chance to discover the answers to those questions when faced with a startling development.

Our Boulder City High School boys basketball team went 9-1 in league play this season, ending on a 9-game winning streak to tie for first place. Their expectations were high for both regional and state championships. However, just three days before their first tournament game, their hopes were abruptly dashed. The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association received a player ineligibility complaint and promptly forfeited 16 of the team’s wins, including seven league games, disqualifying them from post-season play.

Nobody was previously aware of the ineligibility. Not even the ineligible player himself.

Was it even legitimate? Nobody knew. Since November, the coaches and school administrators had believed that all 15 players were eligible. So did the parents and players. For months these student-athletes had worked hard in the classroom and practiced relentlessly on the court to be ready. They had won 17 games fair and square. But suddenly they were being labeled cheaters.

The penalty seemed extremely harsh and unjust. Their whole season was being wiped away on a seeming technicality without even an opportunity to state their case. But what could be done?

Some immediately cried foul. Others began pointing fingers of blame. A few said rules are rules and so we should just accept the consequences. Everyone was paralyzed and in a state of utter disbelief.

After the initial shock wore off, however, one thing became clear. The entire BCHS community would need to set aside their negative reactionary feelings, band together and act fast if there was going to be any chance of saving the season. Giving in to the temptation to be poor sports wasn’t going to change the outcome. Not surprisingly, it never does.

In case you haven’t noticed, bad sportsmanship never gets you anywhere. I’ve been a coach in one form or another for most of my adult life, including at the high school, junior high and recreation league levels. But not once have I ever seen bad sportsmanship change the results of a game or a season for the better. In fact, it almost always makes matters worse.

Have you ever seen a single positive result from trash-talking your opponents, taunting them, blaming your teammates, being disrespectful to the refs, whining, making excuses for poor play, throwing an elbow or retaliating in anger? I haven’t. Never.

I’ve been in many other contentious settings my entire life, including on the hot seat as a government leader, as an attorney in an adversarial courtroom, as a mediator resolving disputes and, like most of us, as a family member in perhaps the ultimate crucible of potential contention, the home. Yet I’ve never seen bad sportsmanship cause anything but damage and misery. Put simply, bad sportsmanship is always counterproductive and harmful.

Fortunately, our BCHS community realized that before it was too late. What did they do instead? They simply exhibited good sportsmanship. And they did so repeatedly and tireless around the clock over the next 72 hours, uniting to change a bad outcome into a good one, all the while working within the rules.

Administrators owned up to unintentional human errors and filed an emergency appeal. Coaches and teachers persistently lobbied NIAA officials to do the right thing. Mayors, legislators and others made last-minute phone calls in support. Former players and elected officials contributed their legal, political and technical expertise. Players and parents prayed and enlisted the media’s help, refusing to be anything but optimistic and complimentary in their interviews.

And perhaps most telling of all, everyone stood behind their wrongly singled-out teammate, reminding him it wasn’t his fault, constantly encouraging him and showing him that they believed in him, were thankful to have him on the team and would never throw him under the bus regardless of the outcome. Then he returned the favor with a supremely unselfish sacrifice, agreeing to sit out the remainder of the season so that the team could have its wins restored and continue marching toward championship glory.

I wish I could tell you that our boys won state or even regionals. Unfortunately, they didn’t. After winning their 10th in a row, they lost a close one in the regional semifinals to the extraordinarily good eventual state champs. But when they did win, they won with humility and dignity. And when they lost a few, they always did so with grace and good sportsmanship despite their disappointment. They didn’t make excuses or blame anyone. In fact, they were anxious to express gratitude to the entire community who had helped them come so far.

We sometimes forget that life is about more than basketball or wins or championships.

I’m grateful that we haven’t forgotten that here in Boulder City. Thank you Boulder City for teaching our children to be good sports and even better human beings. It will take them far.

The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.

Rod Woodbury has resided in Boulder City for more than 40 years and is a partner in the law firm Jolley Urga Woodbury &Holthus. He served on the City Council from 2011- 2019, including four years as mayor.

Alumni events, marriage and a real Nazi

Ron’s column from a few weeks ago inspired me to tell a story about a weird event from my past. Mine is not as exciting as his in that there is no wrestler named Silo Sam. But there is at least one Nazi. And, no, not the current “I disagree with your politics so you are a Nazi” version. An actual card-carrying member of the party.

Las Vegas Veterans’ Memorial to Boulder City?

Veterans’ memorials can be found all over the Silver State. They are well deserved. They honor individuals who served the nation, and also commemorate battles and events regarding the many military anniversaries in Nevada.

City manager bids fond farewell

I may be leaving Boulder City, but it was not an easy decision. From the first time I came in and met the staff and community leaders, I saw a city filled with people who truly care about where they live and work. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with some incredible people.

Is the grass always greener?

Many people in the past played a golf game to cement a business deal, didn’t they? They also played golf to socialize. Has Boulder City recognized lessening play on golf courses? Or, from another perspective, what happens when million-dollar homes are placed around our open space golf course with views of the McCullough Mountains? Do fewer people play golf on the Boulder Creek golf course?

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Shakespeare was the man when it came to comedy and tragedy. His ability to make people feel the intense emotions of the characters is still imitated today. The past few months have been filled with a bit of excited anticipation at City Hall as several longtime and high-level employees have found new roles in other acts. I’m here to borrow some Shakespearean lines, the first being from Ophelia, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)

Me, my brother and Silo Sam

Recently, I’ve been enjoying watching shows on A&E related to professional wrestling back in the earlier days, with profiles on wrestlers I grew up watching as well as classic rivalries.

Let’s talk about the ‘D Word’

OK, as a starting point, I must note that it’s weird to think that I might be writing something that would put me in agreement with the Language Police.

Make a new plan, Stan

A plan is a method for achieving a desirable objective. It’s a program of action, usually memorialized in writing. Plans start with goals and ideas. But ideas alone (even good ones) don’t constitute a plan.

Time to recognize unsung heroes

We have so many functions within the Boulder City Police Department, from school resource officers to road patrol to the detective bureau. The work that they do keeps Boulder City among the “Safest Cities in Nevada” (newhomesource.com, alarm.com) year after year. One unit is the backbone of our public safety response: Public Safety Dispatchers.

Honoring National Public Health Week

In my eight decades of this amazing life, I have worn a great many hats: son, brother, father, major (USAF), grandfather, council member, state representative, state senator.