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Heroes among us

Posted: Thursday, Feb 21st, 2013

Have you ever gone to a game and heard a fan get angry when a player misses a play, drops a ball or just plan makes a mistake? I know I was once a fan who would be just like that. That was until I became the sports editor and an athlete, and gained an appreciation for the athletes and what they do.

As much as we would like to think it, athletes are not machines. They are human beings that need second and third chances at tasks just like the rest of us. As someone who watches over a thousand sporting events over the year as a fan, reporter and coach, I can say I see just how much these athletes put into their hard work.

As I write this, I am sitting in the Centauri High School gym next to the scorerís table within the last five minutes of a basketball game. I have seen two examples of where athletes are not machines.

After two unfortunate passes by Centauri sophomore Marissa Quinlan, Head Coach Dave Forster did not yank her out of the game. Instead, he allowed her to stick in the game while Assistant Coach Mark Perrish yelled words of encouragement. When she next touched the ball, it was refreshing to see that she wasnít startled and afraid to play the game. Instead, she calmly took ahold of the ball, took a deep breath and continued to play the game she is used to playing.

Less than two offensive possessions later, Falcon junior Tori Fringer was in a wide-open position to get a rebound on the near corner. Instead, she just sat there and watched it pop to the sideline and out of bounds.

Once she quickly realized what she did, you could see her throw her hands up and, as if speaking to someone, she calmly said, ďWhat am I doing?Ē

As she prepared for the next inbounds, she just laughed at herself and got back into the game.

Officials fall into the same category. They are human, too. One of the biggest errors an official in professional sports has made was Jim Joyce, a Major League Baseball official. On June 2, 2010, Tigerís pitcher Armando Galarraga was a single out from a perfect game when Joyce did not call a simple out at first base. The perfect game was gone, and that is how Joyce will forever be known in the MLB world.

Despite that, Joyce sincerely apologized to Galarraga and went back to work the next day. He is still currently an umpire in MLB.

Another example of this was on Monday during the Colorado Avalanche-Nashville Predators hockey game. Early in the second period, a wobbly pass found Avalanche forward Matt Duchane more than a foot offside, but the official blew the call and Duchane easily scored a breakaway goal.

The game went on and the Avalanche won by a single goal, 6-5. Despite the error, the game went on and the officials continued to officiate.

Recently, one of my heroes, Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton was charged with a DUI. Itís a mistake he has made off the field, but he has apologized and looks to move on and finish off the final year of his career.

These little things might make an impact on the outcome of a game, but even if they do, one thing that makes me love the world of sports is that they are all able to leave it behind, take a deep breath, laugh it off and continue to play the game. They donít dwell on the past despite all the obstacles, mental or physical, that get in their way.

They are all just human, after all, and thatís why some of them are still my heroes.

Eric R. Flores is the Valley Courier Sports Editor and an Alamosa High School cross country and track and field coach.

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