Sports Fans Have Plenty to Be Thankful For

By Fred Bowen
Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What a wonderful idea to set aside a day for family and friends and to remember how lucky we are.

People in this country -- kids, too -- have a lot to be thankful for, including sports. Let's take a look at what sports fans can be grateful for.

· Alex Ovechkin. It's fun to watch a great player do his, or her, thing no matter what the sport. The Capitals' high-scoring young (he's only 23) forward will be fabulous to watch for years. And add Alexander Semin to the list of fun-to-watch players. The Caps' other Russian superstar winger may be as good as AO.

· The sports section. I know everyone loves television highlight shows such as ESPN's "SportsCenter," but I still love reading the sports section in the newspaper. It has game stories, statistics and loads of analysis. And, unlike on the TV and radio sports shows, people aren't yelling at one another. The sports section is like a friend who can always come out to play.

· So-called minor sports. When the older folks in your family were growing up, they played fewer sports. Go ahead and ask them while you are eating turkey today or watching the football games. Years ago, kids mostly played three major sports: football, basketball and baseball. Even soccer was only just starting to become popular. Now kids play lacrosse, volleyball, field hockey and ice hockey. They wrestle and play golf and tennis. They do gymnastics, ice skating and fencing. There are extreme sports, such as skateboarding and snowboarding. These days, there's no excuse for kids not to play some kind of sport.

· Coaches. With all those sports, we need lots of coaches. Everyone should be thankful for the adults who volunteer their time so the kids can play. You should be really happy if you find a coach who has figured out that winning isn't everything in kids' sports.

· Referees and umpires. All the sports mean we need someone to call the games, matches and meets. Instead of yelling at these folks, everyone should thank them after every event, because they keep the play fun and fair. I think any parent, coach or kid who yells at the referee during a game should try being a referee. It's a tough job.

· Title IX. The law that says girls sports must be treated equally with boys sports is the best thing to happen to sports in my lifetime. Kids, ask the older women in your family what sport they played in school. Most women didn't get the same chances to play as girls today. Now, girls play sports just like the guys. That's another thing in sports to be thankful for today.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is an author of sports novels for kids.

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