Records Are Made To Be Broken

Copyrighted comments by Bradley E. Barrows of York, following the presentation in October, 1998, of a Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Great Moment in High School Sports Award honoring son Ryan’s 800-meter race at the 1997 state meet which broke a 22-year-old state record.

A track record was set. Everything went right in one of those magic moments sports provide. The record will be broken; probably much more quickly than the former record. Athletic achievements are nice, but there are many more important things in life. The record may be fleeting, but the lessons learned during its pursuit will endure for a lifetime. At some point decisions were made which allowed the record to occur.

Examples were set by many fine athletes on prior cross country and track teams. Many coaches gave encouragement and provided expert training assistance along the way. Many teammates provided practice competition and support. Competitors provided encouragement and advice. Taxpayers provided facilities and hired great coaches. The crowd provided energy. God provided gifts of ability, decent weather and an opportunity.

Success is the result of sustained effort over a long period of time with proper prior planning, God’s grace and a little luck.

My daughter says she doesn’t enjoy track and asked in exasperation, “What is the point of running around in circles?” It is a good question. The answer required some thought.

The point of track is to test your limits while engaging in healthy, spiritually uplifting activities. The point is to learn to do your best with your God given ability on any given day. The point is to learn to make the most of the opportunities life affords you. The point is to learn that the results obtained by taking a seemingly quick and easy option are not the same as those obtained by electing to take the more difficult but lasting route. The point is to take successes in stride and defeats graciously. The point is to learn to deal with adversity while trying to excel. The point is to learn to encourage others and work within a team as accomplishments and talents are enjoyed most when shared with others.

Other students will make choices. They will decide whether they want to make the most of the opportunities they are provided by school and extracurricular activities. They will decide whether they will seek the rewards of lessons learned the hard way or immediate gratification. They will decide whether to work to earn money to buy luxuries or implements of self- destruction while neglecting their school work or personal development. They will decide whether to try to fully develop themselves for a rich rewarding lifetime by seeking the best education available and by participating in an array of extra curricular activities which provide personal growth. They will decide whether to seek spirituality or risk spiritual bankruptcy.

Many young people made many excellent choices. Many good opportunities for learning and growth are provided by all kinds of extracurricular activities. Successes of many kinds are there to be enjoyed and shared by students with classmates, family, community members and friends. Many young people get the point.

I hope the record is not the defining moment in my son’s life. I hope the lessons learned in the pursuit thereof last him a lifetime. The process, not the result, is important. Records are broken, but the benefits of the lessons learned endure. I hope somehow the record serves only to encourage others to make good choices and to make the most of the opportunities for education and personal growth they are given.

Finally, Ryan sincerely believes that there are several current high school athletes who have a real chance to break this record and he wants to wish them well and hopes only that they experience God’s grace, and that he can be nearly as gracious to them as Scott Poehling was to him.

(Scott Poehling of Fremont Bergan, the previous state record-holder, left the stands at the meet to congratulate the new record holder. Ryan Barrows attends Yale University and class conflicts prevented him from being at the presentation in person.)

© 1997. Bradley E. Barrows.