There are still celebrations going on for The Black Knights, the Football Team of the Graham County High School on the North Side of Robbinsville.
They’ve taken their 14th A 1 State Championship. But I wouldn’t want to give the football team too much publicity. Graham County excels in plenty of other sports on the State level, particularly wrestling.
Sports have done much for Graham County. It’s one of the very poorest, marginalized counties in all of North Carolina, and in the Appalachian Mountains throughout the Eastern USA. That they so very frequently finish up in first place says much of the local spirit.
Another sport has been added very recently: marksmanship. How well do they do with that, you ask? Well, those of you who are as old as I am may remember a skeet-shooting session in the The Beverly Hillbillies. It’s kind of like that:
Sports have done so very much to promote unity among people of different backgrounds and of different wherewithal on whatever level and in whatever way. I’ve seen this before in Rosman and Brevard North Carolina, where there have been some amazing coaches. I am reminded of Saint John Paul II’s words on sports:
- “Playing sport has become very important today, since it can encourage young people to develop important values such as loyalty, perseverance, friendship, sharing and solidarity.”
- “Sport is a factor of emancipation for poor countries and helps to eradicate intolerance and build a more brotherly and united world.”
- “Sport…protects the weak and excludes no-one…frees young people from the snares of apathy and indifference and arouses a healthy sense of competition in them.”
- “Sports, in fact, can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love.”
- “Sports contribute to the love of life, teaches sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to the full development of every human person.”
- “Every Christian is called to become a strong athlete of Christ, that is, a faithful and courageous witness to his Gospel. But to succeed in this, he must persevere in prayer, be trained in virtue and follow the divine Master in everything.”
- “Sport trains body and spirit for perseverance, effort, courage, balance, sacrifice, honesty, friendship and collaboration.”
- “Give thanks to God for the gift of sport, in which the human person exercises his body, intellect and will, recognizing these abilities as so many gifts of his Creator.”
- “Lord Jesus Christ, Help these athletes to be your friends and witnesses to your love. Help them to put the same effort into personal asceticism that they do into sports; help them to achieve a harmonious and cohesive unity of body and soul.”