PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pro sports are supposed to be the best of the best, but from watching the players on the field, you might not know it.
Case in point, the Kansas City Chiefs were flagged 15 yards for excessive celebration against the Steelers Monday night on a play that was ultimately ruled an incomplete pass.
Today, nearly 600 students from 80 WPIAL schools gathered at the Heinz History Center for a summit on sportsmanship.
Dan Cardone is the athletics director at North Hills High School, which is one of the largest schools in Pittsburgh.
“We spend so much time on the physical aspect of sports and very little on the mental and certainly learning how to respect others to be treated as you would want to be treated, we sometimes miss in sports,” Cardone said.
The summit is also a chance for the WPIAL to hand out its annual sportsmanship award to four programs that best exemplify that behavior.
This year’s winners are Hampton, South Fayette, Summit Academy and Central Valley High School.
Jordan Whitehead, a sophomore football player at Central Valley, sees sportsmanship this way.
“Being a good character on the field if you play a sport, and off the field too like in school and in the classroom,” Whitehead said.
The idea is to have kids talk about sportsmanship and to realize how entire towns and cities watch every move that they make.
Drew Keenan is a three sport athlete at Avella High School. He saw that first hand this fall.
“Our football team went 6-3 this year for the first time since like 1972, so it was a big deal and the community all rallied behind us and it was great to see,” Keenan said.
Sometimes, leadership comes from our youth.
“We look to them because they are kids to be our model,” WPIAL Executive Director Tim O’Malley said. “We hear on a continuous basis that our youth is the key to our future and we look upon it that way too. They are the models and they are the ones that are going to model acceptable behavior.”
It is a message not lost on the kids even as they work to master it.
“It’s hard work,” Cye Murphy, a basketball player from West Mifflin High School, said. “Just keep working hard, be determined to get better and try to get the best out of it and get the most out of it.”