The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

April 14, 2013

SPORTVIEW: Luck plays a big role in sports

By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor

OPINION — ONE OF THE greatest things about sports is that for all the talent of the athletes, all the preparation and hard work, you never know when the unexpected will happen.

Maybe that’s what’s so riveting for the average sports fan.

˝ A field goal attempt hits the uprights — will it bounce through or bounce away? It could determine a Super Bowl Championship.

˝ A long fly ball bounces off the fielder’s glove — or maybe Jose Canseco’s head — over the fence for a home run instead of hitting the wall for a double.

˝ The basketball rolls around the rim several times, either dropping in for the winning basket or falling away.

As they often say about sports: “It’s nice to be good, but it’s even better to be lucky.”

And of course, sometimes you can be good and unlucky. Take for instance a shot by Tiger Woods Saturday at The Masters.

His ball hit the flagstick on No. 15, bounced away and into the water. Instead of a possible birdie and the outright lead in the tourney at the time, it cost him a penalty. And even worse luck, he later was assessed another two-strokes for not placing the ball correctly.

Never overlook the fact that sometimes the golf gods can giveth or taketh away. I have seen people hit terrible shots to a green from a short distance that have wrapped in the flag, then dropped into the hole.

Other times there are results like Tiger’s ball ricocheting in the water. Hey, nobody ever said life is fair.

ä There are always a lot of interesting stories surrounding The Masters, but how about a 14-year-old Chinese 8th-grader Guan Tianlang making the cut to play on the weekend at Augusta.

Amazing how someone that young can be so talented in any sport that he can play better than several pros. Just handling that kind of pressure is something to behold.

In a way it’s great. But in another way, it’s not. It means that every overbearing parent who pushes his kids too hard in sports will push even harder thinking that their boy or girl should be just as good by that age.

Too many parents think their kid will be the next Tiger Woods or LeBron James or Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter. They need to realize that only about 1 in every 10,000 high school athletes will someday be a professional in sports.

So kids need to realize that getting an education is paramount and more important than sports. While the two go hand-in-hand in developing a well-rounded boy or girl, most of their future won’t be determined by sports.

Like the NCAA ad on television points out: There are more than 400,000 college athletes but most of them will be going pro in something other than sports.

Every youngster needs to remember. Luck plays a role in sports. But if you work hard in the classroom, you make your own luck.

Lynn Saternow is sports editor of The Herald.