Guest commentary: Why cross-country's positive, hard-working culture works for kids

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  • alleYcat BATAVIA, IL
    July 24, 2014 12:52 p.m.

    I second the sentiment of this article and share the same observations. I played baseball and football in HS. My HS son runs XC. Couldn't be more proud and more excited to see him get better and better, and cheer for all runners regardless of their position. There is a tendency to blame "politics" in team sports when your child isn't getting playing time you think he/she deserves. In XC, they either run or they don't. They either finish or they don't. If they beat another runner, it is because they earned it, worked for it and executed. No "politics" here.... love it.

  • linker Manti, UT
    July 9, 2014 7:51 p.m.

    Great commentary. As a life long coach I have always tried to put the personal progress concept into whichever sport I have coached. However I have to agree that cross country and I add track and field have been by far the most rewarding as I have watched athletes from rival schools create friendships that startle as they ran against each other. Sometimes one would win and then the other. These are life lessons as we learn how to compete in the real world. I encourage all potential athletes to look at these sports as avenues that the can find pure success at in their own individual way.

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    July 8, 2014 4:04 p.m.

    And, lest my comments be dismissed as anti-team sports, I absolutely love watching college football and basketball, as one might deduce from my screen name. It's just not a viable lifelong pursuit for most people. I'll probably encourage my kids in other directions unless they really want to try out football or something (although this is partly because I will not be passing on any genetic advantages in the size and fast-twitch muscle departments).

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    July 8, 2014 4:00 p.m.

    BYU Track Star's comment highlights another advantage that distance running has over most other high school sports, in that it can become a lifelong pursuit. In sports like basketball and football, after high school you are either good enough to play college ball or you are relegated to the annual neighborhood Turkey Bowl until your back or knees fail. After college, it's either on to the pros for the few remaining years that your body holds up, or again, back to the Turkey Bowl. Running is different. I know of a man who ran marathons until Parkinson's finally stopped him sometime in his 80s (and even then he wouldn't quit trying). I know of other folks who are running ultramarathons well into their 60s and 70s. Personally, I could have been a scholarship runner at most universities, but I chose not to sell my soul to the NCAA and pursue marathon running instead. When I got bored with that, I got into trail ultras, and if/when I ever get tired of those I'll try something else. It's all up to me, and that's what I love about it.

  • belgie Tualatin, OR
    July 7, 2014 12:17 p.m.

    In addition to what's mentioned in the article, other benefits to running include:
    -It's easy to keep as a life-long hobby
    -It teaches self-discipline like few other sports can
    -All the health benefits with almost none of the risks (despite what the "it'll ruin your knees!" crowd says)

  • TiCon2 Cedar City, UT
    July 7, 2014 11:43 a.m.

    Fantastic article and spot-on in your assessment of the traditional sports mentality. While most sports feature a war-like opposition of teams, cross-country racing features everyone running the same direction.

    This isn't to say team-building doesn't feature at all, because it is an enormous part of the successful culture of any team. No one's playing time is diminished becuased they mentored a talented up and comer. Some of the greatest leaders on teams I've been a part of weren't the fastest, but the most upbeat, dedicated, and caring "harriers".

    I will strongly encourage my children's participation when they reach that age.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    July 7, 2014 10:55 a.m.

    Whereas Cross-Country in High School was a blast. Running at the College level was a whole different matter. The College workouts were so exhausting one's body would be in an Excercise induced haze until 8 or 9pm. and one would still have 4 or 5 hours of Homework every evening, like: Calculus, Physics and, Chemistry. X-C gave me the toughness to make it through Engineering school. Part of the growing up process in College is gaining that self-awareness of what you can and can't fit in. I decided early on that being a competent Engineer trumped being an All-American in Cross country. I have no regrets and 40 Years later I still go running before my Engineering work day begins. No regrets.and no Shoulda-Coulda-Wouldas.

  • runnerguy50 Virginia Beach, Va
    July 7, 2014 10:48 a.m.

    Totally agree with the article. If I'm looking at a resume I'll take the cross country kid over the hoopster or football player every time.
    The culture around baseball,basketball and football is corrupt and worldly.

  • Arizona1 Tucson, AZ
    July 7, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    Great article!