Thus, we city rooters are the ones who have raised expectations upon our teams: Make state more often! Win more titles! You fell short? The ‘08 team didn’t! What’s wrong with you?! The proceeding sentence sequence is the product of raised expectations, and before Eau Claire’s go flying out of control, we need to be sure not to raise such expectations to Fairchild TV tower-heights.
I have always argued against placing too much emphasis on winning at the high school level. Yes, everybody wants their favorite high school team to win, but everybody needs to remember that we are placing our hopes and dreams upon the shoulders of teenagers, who are firstly students. The most critical result of their athletic career is that the students have learned lessons that will further their growth into adulthood and society. That is a result that cannot be tangibly measured in the scoreboard. For a select few, their high school athletic careers will need to be judged by statistical performance, since these are the few with the talent to pursue a professional athletic career. However, the vast majority will not and cannot follow that path; the character they exhibit, the effort they display, and how they parlay those elements into their adult lives, are ultimately the expectations by which we should judge the performance of our favorite high school athletes and their teams.
Winning does matter. As one professional football coach said, “You play to win the game.” However, before we become a city that considers winning to be the only thing (as another such coach once said), pause and remember what the proper expectations should be for our athletes – and for us as their fans. These are the kind of raised expectations we should always strive for – and you will find successful results to be far more fulfilling.