New Hampshire Technical Institute athletic director and basketball coach Paul Hogan moved the start time of last Sunday’s game in order that he could attend an event in Manchester.

He was among those honored at our annual Union Leader Celebration of Champions , but the point Coach Hogan made there was something more. He touched the heart of why the celebration program was expanded a few years ago to honor not just the athletes, but those who coach them and those who officiate at their games.

“I want to leave you with one message,” Coach Hogan told the crowd, “because this is such an incredible event with so many wonderful people here. We’re all in the business of developing critical thinking. It’s one of the buzz phrases right now in education but if you think about athletics and you think about coaching, you think about officiating, you think about all the things that go on every day, we have to make critical choices and we’re teaching our athletes to do that same thing.”

Indeed, sports does and has always played a role in critical thinking and teaching.

The good sportsmanship and teamwork that sports teaches is invaluable.

So, too, is when athletes see the time and effort put in by their coaches, officials and, not to be forgotten, their parents and other family members.

They are the ones who drive young athletes, attend games, buy equipment, mend broken bones and sometimes broken hearts.

The Union Leader also wants to salute the men and women who make up our board of judges. They are devoted to New Hampshire athletics and it shows.

We would suggest adding an award for parents, but we are concerned that the already hard-working board might toss a javelin our way.