OTHER VIEW: Let's cheer on young players

Aug. 24—It's football season! Although the still-lingering summer heat makes it more difficult to feel excited about football or other outdoor sports, high school football games begin this week. Young athletes have been practicing and playing in preseason scrimmages. Now, it's time to take the field in front of the fans.

For community members, it's time to support our student athletes. High school football traditionally has been a source of community pride, a sort of rallying point, in Oklahoma communities — especially smaller communities and even towns supporting consolidated school districts. The local schools and especially high school teams, win or lose, help bring communities together. It's part of the charm of where we live.

But that support of youth doesn't need to begin or end with athletics. Many other activities — arts, academics, faith and community service — deserve public attention and individual support. Also, activities for older and younger youth deserve accolades, too. Young competitors fill the Crosslin Park fields in northern Enid, and new men's and women's Northern Oklahoma College Jets soccer teams begin competition in Enid this month.

Football season brings out a lot of orange-and-black OSU Cowboys attire and plenty of "Boomer Sooner" cheers from the OU crowd. That's a lot of fun, too. But the universities should not receive all of the attention.

You don't need to be a paint-your-face fan, but cheering on a local youth team or offering words of encouragement and support to a friend or neighbor can mean a lot. Young students, and especially student athletes, are working at juggling a lot of demands on their time. They are learning to set and meet expectations. They are learning about winning, and losing, with grace. They are learning about commitment, including commitment to a team.

As the "Friday night lights" come on once again, it's a good time for people of all ages to support the young students putting out extra effort to improve themselves in so many ways.