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Local kid’s essay in USA Today (03/04/2007)
By Cynthya Porter

Photo by Cynthya Porter
     Jacob Timm won a national essay contest run by USA Today in conjunction with National Sportsmanship Day. His essay will appear in USA Today on Tuesday.
Jacob Timm knows a lot about being a good sport.

After all, the St. Stan's fourth grader plays football, basketball and baseball as well as wrestles, and although sometimes he won and sometimes he lost, the ten-year-old says he was always proud of how he played the game.

Now Timm, son of Paula and Robert Timm, is a bigger winner than even he can appreciate, learning last week that an essay he wrote about sportsmanship won a national contest run by USA Today in conjunction with National Sportsmanship Day.

Timm's essay and a photo of him will appear in USA Today Tuesday, which is the day designated for the past 17 years as an opportunity to step back and examine sportsmanship issues across all athletic endeavors, officials say.

According to Dave Bloss, contest official and deputy director of the Institute for International Sportsmanship at the University of Rhode Island, only one winner is chosen in each of four age groups, making Timm's entry the top elementary entry in the country.

Other winners this year, Bloss said, come from Singapore, Maryland, and a university in Washington, D.C.

The contest asks for a 500-word essay about sportsmanship, either focusing on philosophies or personal experiences. The winners, Bloss said, are difficult to choose from for staffers at the institute, but all have one common characteristic. "We're looking for heart more than anything else," he said. "Someone who tells a nice story and clearly cares a lot about what they said."

Timm said the news of his win came as a pretty big surprise, especially because he wasn't exactly sure what USA Today was, but he knew it sounded big. "My mom picked me up from school, and told me in the hallway she had really good news, but she wouldn't tell me until we got into the car," Timm said. Appreciation for the fact that USA Today is a gigantic newspaper that circulates all over the country and world is beginning to sink in, but Timm admits he has a hard time imagining how big that really is.

But he knows one thing, everyone around him is pretty excited for him, and it's making him feel just a little bit famous.

The essay he wrote talks about times during his sports life when he has seen his teammates and competitors behave in less than sportsmanlike ways, as well as the ways he believes sportsmanship grows.

Timm believes he can be an ambassador for good sportsmanship by being a good example. He gives his teammates pep talks before the game or match and pats on the back for a good effort, and he finds that those seeds seem to help sportsmanship sprout around him.

He wrote the essay as part of a project given to students by physical education teacher James Gostomski.

Bloss said about 13,000 schools nationwide participate in National Sportsmanship Day using tools provided by the institute and scheduling local activities designed to recognize the benefits of being a good sport for everyone.

A common saying in his institute and by sports authorities many decades ago, Bloss said, is that there is a moment in every bad situation when you make a decision about how to handle a conflict.

National Sportsmanship Day is designed to help athletes, coaches, parents and administrators step back and examine their role in those decisions and how they can do it better. Essays like Timm's, Bloss said, shed positive light on those decisions and why they are important. 


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