Chesterton Tribune

Sorry Jim, but thanks, by TR Harlan

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Even though it didnít seem like enough, it certainly was.

Friday night before the Chesterton football team took on Lake Central in a key Duneland Athletic Conference game, CHS Athletic Director Garry Nallenweg stepped out on the field and asked for a moment of silence to honor former Trojan Jim Butz who died serving his country in Afghanistan.

It was the second time I cried that day. The first came at 7:40 a.m. when choked-up CHS Principal Jim Goetz announced Butzí death during morning announcements.

In my nearly 40 years of life, Iíve watched, covered and played side by side with thousands of athletes in a multitude of sports. And every day, every game, was probably the most important thing I did that day.

But, it wasnít. And Friday night was a ďslap in the faceĒ reminder.

ďSomething like this makes you realize that itís just a game,Ē Chesterton football coach John Snyder said after the 38-7 loss.

I saw Jim Butzí entire athletic career unfold at CHS. He was a good football player who had a senior season cut short with an injury. He was a good wrestler who cracked coach Chris Jollís lineup and gave great effort for his teammates and the maroon and gold.

Most importantly, what Jim did, was give everything he had every day. According to reports, thatís something he did until his very last moment. And he didnít do it this time for his teammates, himself or good old CHS. He did it for you, me and millions of people whose colors are red, white and blue.

Like many of you reading this, I have had friends, acquaintances and relatives that have joined the military and fought for our freedom. Iíve been fortunate enough to have them all return home.

Whether itís the Pledge of Allegiance before a school day or the National Anthem before a game, we need to remember whatís really important in this world.

In a day and age when the newspaper and Internet is full of stories of youth parents fighting in the stands or kids playing on faked birth certificates, you have to wonder just how important sports really are.

Iím a coach. And, yes winning is important. But letís not let things lose perspective.

Iíve yelled and screamed and cheered and celebrated during my 15-year coaching career. And Iím sure Iíve done too much of each one over the years.

But, Iíve tried to remember that when the gameís over, itís over. It doesnít carry over to the next day, except maybe at practice on occasion. There is always going to be another game.

Until thereís not and thatís why sports gives us a chance to teach lessons about life.

Having met Jim, he learned those lessons. Give that credit to his parents.

I donít remember being at a game that Jim, or his brother Will, played in that the Butzí werenít there front and center supporting their sons.

They didnít yell and scream and make spectacles of themselves. They didnít write letters complaining about playing time. They didnít fire off emails or complain about other kids on the team.

Nope. They simply cheered for their son and supported his efforts. And that, in part, is why Jim turned out to be the fabulous young man we all knew.

In the 10 years since 9-1-1, the world has changed. We all know that. And none of us should forget the perspective that the incident brought with it.

Although the world of sports was definitely an aid in overcoming things in September of 2001 and remembered again last month on the 10-year anniversary, thatís all it was - an aid.

So tonight when we take, or pick our kids up from a practice or game, letís remember that in the grand scheme of things, itís just that Ė practice or a game.

Itís too bad that a tragedy of this magnitude had to happen to teach us a lesson we all should have learned a long time ago.

Sorry Jim, but thanks.


Posted 10/4/2011