There’s nothing quite like the Christmas season.

It’s a time when we count our blessings and also to look toward the future.

I know I am blessed to have a wonderful family, friends and a job that allows me to follow high school sports.

As a child, I spent many nights at a high school where my parents were booster club volunteers. They ran the concession stand. I ran — sometimes literally — behind the stands at the football stadium and on the upper deck of the huge gymnasium.

Though I watched NBA, NFL and major league games on TV, high school players were my heroes. They were real to me because I saw them in person.

In some ways, 2012 was a challenging year in high school sports.

As it ends, I want to offer a few gifts for notable sports figures and a couple wishes of I have for 2013.

The gifts

To Larry Winters, girls basketball coach at Indiana-based Bloomington South High: a new game plan.

Winters’ team took a 107-2 victory over Arlington High earlier this month. After the game, Winters was quoted as saying it would have been more embarrassing to the other team if his players had stopped shooting.

I disagree. I understand that all nine Bloomington South players participated. Instead of shooting, why not run several plays in your playbook before opting to score? I saw a Baton Rouge boys team do this a few years ago. At one point, this team ran plays for five minutes before scoring. There were no 3-pointers and fastbreaks. Every shot came from less than 10 feet from the basket.

To Parkway High Principal Nichole Bourgeois: a copy of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s handbook with its rules regarding hosting playoff contests highlighted. A full explanation of what “mutual agreement” means in playoff situations should be inserted.

Last month’s prefootball playoff game incident at Parkway in which Live Oak football coach Barry “Tut” Musemeche was handcuffed, but not arrested, represented a low point in the 2012 sports season.

At the heart of the disagreement was Bourgeois’ insistence that her itinerary and rules had to be followed. By LHSAA rules, all things about playoff games, including the pregame routine, are supposed to be decided by mutual agreement. And after listening to the testimony at last month’s LHSAA hearing, I can tell you mutual agreement wasn’t really part of this process.

To LHSAA member principals: the wisdom to make the right decisions in January.

Again, the LHSAA appears to be at a crossroads. Instead of private schools vs. public schools, the terminology now is select vs. non-select schools.

Under the revised plan, some public schools, primarily magnet schools, charter schools and laboratory schools also are part of the equation. All schools would play together in districts, then divide for separate championships.

The rhetoric sounds plausible. Other states have similar divisions. But is it right to legislate championships, and what message do you send when you do? Is this right for Louisiana? I think there is a basic fact some educators need to grasp. There is no level playing field in sports or in life. That’s not reality.

State championships are supposed to be the best-of-the-best. Yes, there are things about the current system that bother all of us. But if you have select or non-select champions, it’s like adding a disclaimer. Companies can’t legislate around a successful competitor in the business world, which is where many student-athletes wind up. It’s a point worth considering.

The wishes

Better sportsmanship on all levels of sports. There’s a reason why I say coaches and parents all need to be better role models for sportsmanship. Several times a week some figure in the professional sports world is fined or suspended for a fight or other unsportsmanlike conduct.

It’s too bad pro athletes and coaches don’t understand how their actions set a bad example. That’s why coaches and parents need to do an even better job being sportsmanship role models. Remember, this isn’t about you … it’s about the student-athletes.

More dreams to come true

All high school athletes should dream big. But remember, hard work and believing in yourself and your teammates is just as big a part of this as the dream itself.

Don’t just settle for one dream. Start smaller with a dream/work to improve your 40-yard dash time or your ability to hit a curveball.

Sports and life are a progression. Few dreams are realized overnight. Not all of them involve championships.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Job opening

Redemptorist is accepting applications for a football coach. Applicants should forward a résumé and list of references to Maribeth Andereck at P.O. Box 78129 Baton Rouge, LA 70837.