Friday, October 24, 2008

Appreciated for Simply Showing Up

Today's New York Times carries a high school sports story out of the foothills of western Washington County, Pennsylvania.

The story tells the tale of the Avella High School Eagles, a varsity football squad down to 10 or 11 players.

From John Branch's well-done article:

At practice earlier this week, only 10 boys and a girl were willing and able to put on pads. Against the powerhouse Clairton last week, Avella dressed 11 players, leaving not a single substitute on the sideline. One player was hurt in the second quarter, and the Eagles played the rest of the game with 10. They lost, 56-0. It was Avella’s 26th defeat in a row and the 50th in 51 games dating to 2003.

Coach Frank Gray sent a thank-you note this week to his Clairton counterpart for showing class and restraint.

People around town are rather embarrassed by how far the program has fallen. They bemoan a teenage culture in which playing for the high school team has lost its allure in western Pennsylvania, of all places, where football and coal long represented toughness and resilience, where names like Joe Namath and Joe Montana were forged. But slowly this season, the remaining Eagles have come to represent something completely different from losing. They are being appreciated simply for showing up.

Hat-tip: Cousin Luke

The photo above is credited to Jeff Swensen for the NYT.

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