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OPINION: The happiness of pursuit

by By John McGee, columnist | September 27, 2022 at 7:00 a.m.

When the Declaration of Independence was written, a phrase was included that all people by the grace of God ought to have life, liberty and to be free to pursue happiness -- the right of pursuit of happiness.

This pursuit of life, liberty and happiness as natural rights everyone has as Americans is a bedrock principle that has long defined our national character. These freedoms have been drawing people to come to this country since this nation was founded.

The funny thing about setting out to secure happiness is that the process can be a fool's errand. There are those who delve into drugs and alcohol to be "happy" only to discover those activities result in the opposite effect.

I was watching a movie recently and a character in the film remarked that rather than pursuing happiness, one could find happiness in pursuit. That made me ponder a few things.

One of the most popular things of the planet, in terms of participation, television broadcasting, money invested in and spent on, would be sports. Professional sports abound, involving billions and billions of dollars around the globe. Countless millions of people in nearly every nation on earth have something to do with sports either as a participant or a fan. Sports are a big deal on planet Earth.

All these sports have goals, serving as a pinnacles of their success, their acquisition of what can be described as a championship. As Vince Lombardi famously said "Winning isn't the most important thing ... it is the only thing."

But is winning the only thing? In a typical eight-team high school conference situation, is the champion of a conference in whatever sport the only team that didn't waste their time? Should teams in a given sport that never seem to win ought to pack in it and give up?

Maybe we ought to more clearly define what winning is.

It's great to win games and be called champions. Most people who participate in sports never get to find out first-hand what it means to be called champion. What do the "also rans" get out of it?

Most athletes are likely aware of the status of their team's chances relative to the strengths of others. Still, they go out and do their best to reach that goal, to achieve their dreams. Why is that?

Winning is being better than you would otherwise be. Pea Ridge has long had goals of success that included being successful in the classroom and at home as well as succeeding on the field. That is what the happiness of pursuit is -- doing those things that will enrich your life later is ways you might not be able to even imagine in the present.

Participating in sports is something a lot of participants just enjoy doing. It is this happiness in pursuit, building strengths, honing skills and just training their bodies to be more successful. Sometimes it pays off with honors and glory, but it always pays off in physical and mental wellness.

Athletes win every day when they improve the characteristics that define who they are. At the end of the day, if a person can come out of an experience in sports and come out of it as a better person, then they have won.

Week No. 2 of 5A West league play

This is week No. 2 in the race to the playoffs and the Hawks are off to Dardanelle to try and even their conference ledger against the Sand Lizards.

Dardanelle comes into the game as a 7-point favorite over the Hawks in the first time the locals have been south of the Arkansas River in a conference game. Dardanelle was a 55-0 blowout to the state's top-ranked team, Shiloh. The Hawks were beaten in a good game against Prairie Grove 48-31.

It's the battle of the conference unbeatens as Harrison invades Prairie Grove. Harrison upset Farmington last week 21-14 and are looking to prove the demise of Goblins' football power is premature. Prairie Grove, of course, won their opener over the locals.

The resurgent Alma Airedales are taking on favored Farmington. The Cards are just slightly picked to win over Alma with both teams having resurgent programs as of late.

Shiloh will resume playing the bottom of the conference with the private school boys headed down to Clarksville. Shiloh is favored to win it all by 48 points.

5A West

Conference

Standings

Alma^1-0

Prairie Grove^1-0

Harrison^1-0

Shiloh^1-0

Pea Ridge^0-1

Dardanelle^0-1

Farmington^0-1

Clarksville^0-1

MaxPreps/CBS poll

5A football

Sept. 25, 2022

1. Shiloh^3-1

2. Magnolia^4-0

3. LR Robinson^3-1

4. LR Parkview^2-2

5. Wynne^3-1

6. Camden^3-1

7. LR Mills^4-0

8. Hot Springs^2-2

9. Beebe^3-1

10. Farmington^2-2

11. Harrison^3-1

12. Alma^3-1

13. Pine Bluff^3-1

14. Batesville^3-1

15. Valley View^3-1

16. White Hall^2-2

17. Nettleton^3-1

18. Morrilton^2-2

19. Prairie Grove^3-1

20. Batesville Southside^3-1

21. Maumelle^2-2

22. Batesville Southside^2-1

23. Watson Chapel^1-3

24. Dardanelle^2-2

25. HS Lakeside^0-4

26. Pea Ridge^2-2

27. Hope^1-3

28. Brookland^1-3

29. Forrest City^0-4

30. Texarkana^1-3

31. Clarksville^0-

32. Paragould^1-3

33. DeQueen^0-4

•••

Editor's note: John McGee, an award-winning columnist, sports writer and art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, writes a regular sports column for The TIMES. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be contacted through The TIMES at [email protected]

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