Parasiliti: Action, words carry equally loud impacts

November 04, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Joe Crocetta

Everybody wants to be remembered for something.

There are two ways to accomplish that: By what you say or what you do.

Just which of those options is more important all depends on your chosen profession, but in most circles, actions speak louder than words.

Athletics is one arena where the action and words go hand in hand.

We live to see and remember big plays.

Athletes can create a legacy in a split second with a pitch, hit, tackle or basket, shot or pass.

But they also create a reputation with a quick sentence before or after those events.

We, the fans, love great moments in competition, but we thrive on athletes who can drop a good line.

And there is no clown question about that, bro.

Some athletes live forever by merging their words and actions. Joe Namath and Muhammad Ali come to mind for speaking their mind before minding their business.

But they both lived when political correctness was more a government standard than a social etiquette. Still, action and words together carry a huge impact.

Lately, and locally, Friday’s 56th edition of the North Hagerstown-South Hagerstown football rivalry sort of proved that point.

Much was said before and after the game — a game that might be considered one of the best and most competitive contests in the city championship series.

Everything was cultivated — in sort of a philosophical way — at Wednesday’s press conference/luncheon at North Hagerstown. You couldn’t help but notice how the once heated rivalry mellowed into one of mutual respect, especially since both schools entered with 8-1 records and with invitations to the state playoffs hanging in the balance.

All the right things were said. Nothing showed up on a bulletin board anywhere. Still two statements — one from each school — stood out.

First were the words of South principal Dr. Tim Dawson, a newbie when it comes to Hagerstown’s “civil war,” but no stranger to athletic rivalries, starting with his days as a basketball player at Dunbar. He reflected on the days at the University of Miami when his team had bitter battles with Florida on the court, but called a truce before and after the final score was posted.

“No matter how deep the rivalries are, all of us are friends,” he said.

North Hagerstown coach Danny Cunningham unwittingly reinforced Dawson when he spoke of last year’s 40-7 loss to the Rebels.

“Every loss is hard, but it can always be used as a teaching tool,” said Cunningham, a longtime veteran of this game as coach and player. “Last year was a good one for us. South came out and battered us up and down the field. It showed the kids that they have to be ready and can’t take any plays off.”

Come Friday, no one took any plays off.

The game was filled with moments. The defenses ruled as two high-powered offenses were forced to play a strategic battle for yardage, let alone points, in North’s 14-12 victory.

Like most big games, the stars showed up and did the dirty work, but role players got glory.

Players like South’s Isiaha Smith and Brandon Jackson along with North’s Isaiah Keyes and Kyle Hewlett were kept out of the end zone while teammates named Michael Hill, Reggie Anderson, Gabe Fridgen and Nick Karlen crossed the goal line.

There were pivotal situations … and huge turnovers … and swings in momentum … and key injuries … and decisive, signature plays that changed the complexion of the game to dictate the outcome.

When it was all said and done, unfortunately there were winners and losers. And at that point, the friends, who became enemies, became friends again.

The two teams traveled through the traditional lines to shake hands after the game. The Hubs did everything they could to contain their overflowing joy. The Rebels’ faces were etched with the pain and tears of disappointment after working so hard only to come up a few seconds and a play short of celebrating.

Keyes and Hewlett shook the hand and backslapped every Rebel, making an effort to console them. The Hubs pair then met Hill, who was devastated by the final results and had a tear streaming down his left cheek.

Keyes and Hewlett each conveyed special messages and hugged Hill.

“We really respected those guys,” said Hewlett, who admitted he was so happy he could cry, but wouldn’t in front of the media.

“We knew this was going to be a tough battle, but we came out on top. Losing hurts. We know because we were there last year. We wanted to be there for them. They are our brothers who just play for another team.”

With that, social and competitive lessons were learned and taught in one sporting event.

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said, “You can’t win unless you learn how to lose.”

People can’t appreciate the emotions of the former until they have dealt with those of the latter.

On Friday, North and South played a game to be replayed many times.

But in the end, the actions — and the ensuing words — might be remembered the most.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at

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