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We should all want the person with a muddy face

November 22, 2010

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

This is the famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt in his April 23, 1910, speech in Paris entitled "The Man in the Arena."

We have a negative society.

I spent almost 18 years in the golf business and put on hundreds of tournaments.

The main ingredient of a good golf tournament has nothing to do with the golf tournament and has everything to do with the food at the tournament.

Bad food means players will go tell anyone who will listen with an unprovoked comment that the food at the tournament was terrible and they probably won't go back the following year.

Really good food at a really good tournament means men and women had a good time and will usually only tell someone that when asked.

It's easy to be a backseat driver.

It's easy to be an armchair quarterback.

It's easy to make a call in the stands.

It's easy to substitute players from the front porch.

It's easy to question everything and anything under the sun when you don't have to answer the questions.

It's easy to ask the teachers why your child cannot get extra credit assigned to help bring up a poor grade.

Let me answer that for teachers - "If your child cannot do the regular work, why should I give them extra credit to bring up a grade?"

There, folks, now you never have to ask that question.

I know there are extenuating circumstances sometimes, but that also calls for extenuating answers, not extra credit.

Coaches do not coach to get financially ahead in the world with the miniscule stipend.

Coaches coach for various reasons.

I help out with volleyball and girls basketball at Jefferson County Christian School because I love being around kids and I want to see them mature as young women.

I want them to understand that hard work does not hurt.

it may be painful getting in shape.

But, it does not hurt.

There are no physical scars from hard work.

As Steubenville Big Red graduate and current West Virginia University women's basketball player Liz Repella has said so many times, "There is no excuse not to work hard."

She means that in the classroom and on the basketball court.

She's in the trenches and plays the game with heart, hustle and determination.

Her face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.

She errs because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.

The same goes for the Division II swimmer, the Division III soccer player, the NAIA golfer.

The same goes for the straight A student at Harvard, the C-minus student at a community college or any student in between.

Somewhere in our world failure became a bad word.

What is wrong with failure?

It makes kids stronger.

It makes adults stronger.

Being a failure at something is not a weakness. It's not lepracy.

I like the coaches and teachers and administrators and anyone else who is willing to get in the trenches and get muddy.

I like the guy who goes for it on fourth-and-6.

All many of you want to do is complain that a field goal should have been kicked.

All you want to do is complain.

You're the critic.

You are the Brooke County person who really wants to see Tom Bruney out and someone else in.

You wanted a culture change and you got it.

Bruney's Bruins are 23-3, have gone to one state championship game and are in the state championship semifinals while you were sure after being down 21-7 Saturday at George Washington, the kids in green-and-gold would come back home and put the pads away.

You are the one who wants the man to stumble and take all the hard working kids with him.


You are the one who says he could have done better.


The Bruins have lost to South Charleston, Big Red and Morgantown.

That is bad in what way?

But, you aren't the only people around this Valley, this nation who firmly believe you can do better while standing behind those Foster Grants.

I want that one sophomore who is out for basketball while the rest of her classmates are not.

I want the kids who look at the coach and simply state, "We need to work harder."

I want the swimmer who says 500 laps isn't enough because she knows someone is swimming 600 with a goal of winning a state championship.

I want the coach who is willing to run "that" play at the end of a basketball game.

I want the wrestler who is willing to make "that" move to win or lose.

I want the pitcher who brings the heat in a tight situation and dares the hitter.

I want the student who gets a 34 on the ACT and does it again because 36 is better - and a perfect score.

I want Jaime Escalante.

I want Erin Gruwell.

I want the teacher who will push my children and not accept excuses.

I want my children, my players to know victory and to know defeat because they will be better for both.

They will be better for coming up short again and again, for knowing great enthusiasms, for failing while daring greatly and knows the great devotions.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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