What makes a champion? Look all around you

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For being the greatest nation in the history of the world, we sure do get some things wrong.

Consider the Buffalo Bills.

Between 1990 and 1993, the Bills played in four consecutive Super Bowls — and lost them all.

Because of that, in the minds of many fans, their legacy is one of losers. We would argue the exact opposite. If Gonzaga made it to four straight national championship games and lost them all, would you consider the program a disgrace? Would that 0-4 record in The Big Game be a point of shame or of pride? In our view, getting within inches of the top of the competitive heap is always cause for celebration. No hanging heads, no lingering regrets, no inferiority complexes, especially when excellence has been consistently attained.

We bring this up not because of the Bills or even the Zags, but because of our area’s high school basketball teams. Despite sending a slew of squads to state the past couple of weeks, none came back with the most prized trophy: Hardware memorializing a state championship. Only one, the St. Maries boys, even played for a state title, falling in overtime to North Fremont. In the grand scheme of things, however, our region flexed competitive muscles that showed excellence across the board.

In wrestling, the summit was conquered. Post Falls, without question the state’s heavyweight among high school wrestling programs, destroyed the competition in Pocatello. Led by the winningest Idaho wrestler of all time, Ridge Lovett (169-0 for his high school career), Post Falls outdistanced its closest challenger by more than 100 points. But just as in boys and girls basketball, Kootenai County was well-represented, with Coeur d’Alene High (second) and Lake City (fourth) packing a major punch for the locals in 5A competition.

Here’s the point. Except at the professional level, sports is about far, far more than winning championships. It’s about the joy of competing, of forging friendships, of learning teamwork, and yes, it’s about getting better — especially via the hard but lasting lessons that come with losing and the resilience that’s instilled when you pick yourself up and try again.

The Press congratulates all the local high school teams that have just completed the winter sports schedule. You gave us fans all we could ask for, and sometimes a little more.

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