Column: Playing in the now

As a sports fan, sometimes I think my biggest gripe is there’s never enough time to gloat over a big win.

Live MikeLast week, after trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the New York Rangers pulled out an improbable upset, winning three straight games to send the Pens packing and advance to the conference finals.

Then they had to turn around three days later to take on the Canadiens.

If it were up to me, the Rangers—and their fans—would have had at least a week to soak in that victory over Sidney Crosby and the black-and-yellow; possibly even a parade down the Canyon of Heroes. A series win over the best player in the sport—especially when said player is a whiny cheap-shot artist—is certainly deserving of that kind of pomp and circumstance.

Competing in sectionals can be a stressful time for student athletes. Sports Editor Mike Smith hopes our local stars are enjoying the spotlight. Photo/Mike Smith

Competing in sectionals can be a stressful time for student athletes. Sports Editor Mike Smith hopes our local stars are enjoying the spotlight. Photo/Mike Smith

Instead fans get a quick sigh of relief and then we’re thrown right back in the pressure cooker of playoff stress.

We expect our athletes to deal with the pressure. After all, they’re professionals. But what about our local sports stars who are currently in the midst of the Section 1 playoffs? If I thought it was tough being a fan, then these kids have a raw deal.

Talk about having no time at all to bask in a victory. Each season, when the playoff roll around it’s almost impossible for the kids to truly relish a victory for more than a few hours; with a single-elimination, every other day type schedule, our athletes just can’t afford to.

One of the most common coaching clichés I hear this time of year is the old “We’ll enjoy this one tonight, but it’s back to work tomorrow,” quote. For all sports, though—perhaps with the exception of football, which is played once a week—that’s the mindset you need to have.

I couldn’t tell you how New Rochelle was able to get themselves back in the competitive mindset after their miraculous victory over Mount Vernon at the County Center last year. Or how Harrison’s lacrosse team—at the moment—has been able to separate the work they’ve been able to do as underdogs against Eastchester and Sleepy Hollow from what they need to do against top-seeded Yorktown.

Between leaving it all out on the athletic field and worrying about finals, prom and, for some, graduation, it’s an awful lot to take in.

It’s a wild ride playing in sectionals, there will be a time when no matter what the outcome is, our student athletes will look back with pride with what they’ve been able to accomplish.

Let’s just hope the moment isn’t lost on them in the present.


Follow Mike on Twitter, @LiveMike_Sports

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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.