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Sportsmanship must come first

The attention of high school football fans from around the Tri-State Area will be directed on stadiums Thursday night as fans across the region celebrate the return of the pageantry and traditions that make weekends in our region special from late summer through early fall.

Buckeye Local hosts Barnesville, Edison hosts Monroe Central and Toronto makes the short trip north to face Wellsville as Ohio’s high school football season gets under way. On Friday, Steubenville Big Red will host Louisville and Indian Creek will host Cambridge, while Saturday will see Catholic Central hosting Mathews.

West Virginia teams will have to wait a week to get things started — Weir High will visit Oak Glen Aug. 25 to help get things started in the Mountain State.

Athletic contests help to bring residents of our communities together. The strengths and weaknesses of area teams are carefully evaluated, not just by coaches, but by neighbors, friends, co-workers and relatives.

To help make that work a little easier, we have published our annual football edition. This year’s edition, which was included with today’s newspaper, offers in-depth looks at each of our area’s high school teams. It’s traditionally a must-read for fans around the Tri-State Area.

High school football players have been practicing for a month, enduring two-a-day workouts. While they have been preparing physically for the season that lies ahead, they have been learning many other lessons and skills that will serve them well later in their lives.

They are learning the importance of setting goals and working to attain them, and the sacrifices they will be asked to make along the way. They are learning about accountability. They are being taught to have pride in themselves, their schools and their communities and to respect others.

And, while the greatest part of the attention seems to be directed toward football players, we again remind fans that other fall sports, including golf, soccer, volleyball and cross country are under way as well, and that still more students are involved in cheerleading and marching band. Participants in those sports and activities are deserving of your support as well.

We also hope fans keep their enthusiasm in check and remember that those they are watching are 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds, and not highly paid professionals.

That said, football and the fall sports are back. To the athletes, we say good luck and hope that everyone has a safe and successful season. To the fans, we say cheer for your favorite teams, but remember that encouraging sportsmanship and fostering an atmosphere of respect are among your responsibilities.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the stadiums and fields this year.

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