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November 4, 2003
Building character through sports

If intramural sports exist to build character for young adults, then one of the best success stories can be found in Nate Haasis, a Springfield, IL high-school quarterback:

Nate Haasis dropped back for one more pass as the clock wound down on his high school football career. But this one was different: As he threw a 37-yard completion, his opponents just stood around and watched.

With that, Haasis became the new all-time passing champion of the Central State Eight Conference, with a record 5,006 yards.

But it turns out the two opposing coaches in the Oct. 25 game orchestrated the play to ensure Haasis' place in history. And now the 17-year-old senior wants to nullify the pass and give back the record in a dispute that has roiled this football-crazed city and led to a debate over honesty and fair play.

Some in the community have made the coaches out to be evildoers in this incident, but the coaches stood to gain nothing from staging the final play for Haasis; they just wanted to see Haasis reach his goal. But Haasis realized immediately that the play was a sham, and decided that he could not take the record away from someone to whom it wasn't just given:

``It's for past and present football players. I felt disrespectful when I had the record the way I got it,'' the Springfield Southeast quarterback said.

People should quit blaming Neal Taylor, Haasis' coach -- this is not a story that needs a bad guy. The class and integrity Haasis demonstrated in filing a written request to have the play canceled out is compelling enough without ruining a well-intentioned but mistaken man's life and career. Haasis demonstrates that in a me-first-all-the-time world, where even pee-wee leaguers practice ridiculous celebration dances, sports can still build character. Or, perhaps, sports merely reveals character. Either way, it shows that sports can still make a positive impact on young people.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 4, 2003 10:49 PM

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