By Rusty Rae • Of the News-Register • 

Heart of competition: Sorry, Y-C; keep playing with passion

Sometimes your obedient and humble servant (YOHS) is a world-class bonehead.

As my bride of 27 years can attest.

Point in fact last Tuesday’s sports section. I allowed a story to be printed that did not meet my standards set for coverage. I am speaking of the Yamhill-Carlton Tigers’ boys’ soccer team, under the headline: Y-C boys’ soccer team falls to North Marion in comedy of errors. I didn’t use this story to embarrass the team or the coach.

Although I could supply a myriad of reasons, none really matter. The story did not focus on the heart of competition. The writer attempted covering a 9-0 loss from a “lighter” perspective.

The story was one thing, but the headline was, well, a supreme example of taking a poor decision and making it worse.

I spoke privately with the coach and the team, apologizing for this gaffe. The team was quite gracious in accepting my apology.

That night the Tigers played Newport, the number one-rated 4A boys’ soccer team in the state. I arrived about midway through the second period when the locals trailed 7-0.

Now here is the heart of competition in a nutshell:

While Newport fielded a full contingent of players, their starting 11 and at least eight or 10 substitutes on the bench, Yamhill-Carlton had only three or four back-ups.

Outnumbered, playing one of the top teams in Oregon, the Tigers still played hard. My impression was they were also having fun playing the game – enjoying measuring themselves against an outstanding opponent. They battled gamely until the last tick of the clock.

We should remember the score represents one metric in judging success.

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” said football legend Vince Lombardi. Except, he never said that. The actual quote, bastardized by our win-at-any-cost society is, “Winning is not everything – but making the effort to win is.”

There is a big difference.

We really have control over very little.

We do control how we think and act. These boys think like winners. They also play like winners. They did not achieve the results that wanted. Truth to tell, Newport and many of the teams are simply better, at this point.

But that challenge doesn’t stop these young men from performing at their best; from exhibiting great spirit; from showing their joy playing a game they appear to love; and at being great teammates.

These young men are also committed to improving each day they are on the pitch.

That is a winning combination.

It is also the heart of competition.

Rusty Rae can be at reached