Archived Story

Supt. John Jarpe: You gotta play hurt

Published 10:44pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

“You gotta play hurt.”

It’s an old adage from the world of sports. I can remember coaches using it, encouraging athletes to keep playing through the pain.

When we were kids, all young baseball fans knew how much pain Mickey Mantle endured, how he wrapped up his fragile, sore legs before every contest, and still managed to be near the top of his game, year after year.

In 1988, Isaiah Thomas of the Pistons played nearly a full quarter against the Lakers with a broken ankle, leading his team to victory.

The old saying doesn’t just apply to athletics. There are plenty of Americans going to work every day, with a whole lot on their minds, and they manage to do a superb job despite family and personal worries, including, often, a big worry like whether or not they will even keep their job.

They play hurt every day, just like Mantle, just like Thomas, just like anyone who ever put on a uniform and took a deep breath and kept playing.

But these people get up, go to work, go home and take care of business — they receive no fame, no special recognition.

In my own field of education, I admire the people who are doing their best work with students in spite of many concerns that can be disheartening and distracting.

I know people who have worked without a raise for several years. Some of these same folks are paying more for their benefits, more for future pensions and with mounting pressure to raise student achievement, working harder and longer hours than they ever have before.

The hurt shows in some people, but others tend to move ahead and are doing even better work than they’ve done before, and their attitudes show they still like their work; like Thomas and Mantle, these are true professionals.

Many other people would call these educators lucky, because in fact they have jobs; they have health care; and they have a pension.

The hurt the unemployed endure is on a whole other level.

Today’s students need to be prepared to have that opportunity to work, even if it means “playing hurt.”

These are the individuals we educators work to prepare.

We must teach them the skills, the work ethic and the ambition to provide for themselves and their families.

We are committed to the younger generation and their futures.

I hope we can all work together to get our students ready for the game called life, even if it means sacrificing and many of us “playing hurt” a little longer.

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