Short people got no reason to live, Randy Newman once sang.
Tell that to Steven Herzig.
The 13-year-old is a four-year veteran in the Prince George Minor Football Association and hes easy to spot on the field, all four-foot-five and 65 pounds of him.
The Grade 8 student plays on both the junior bantam Prince George Axemen as well as the Prince George Polars junior team at PGSS.
The photograph that appeared with Ted Clarkes story in Tuesdays Citizen tells the story. Herzig stands between two teammates his age who are 18 inches taller and weigh three times as much as he does.
Their shoulder pads are bigger than his head.
Don Cherrys oft-repeated phrase that its not the size of the dog in the fight that counts but the size of the fight in the dog clearly applies here.
Even more incredible, Herzig is not the punter or the field goal kicker or the kid who holds the ball for the field goal kicker. He plays defence and his specialty is guarding receivers and breaking up passing plays.
And when he does get the ball, hes fearless.
You just have to be fast and when theyre about to hit you, spin around them, he explained.
That worked well for one of the greatest running backs in the history of football.
Barry Sanders was just five-foot-eight and played for 10 seasons for the Detroit Lions during the late 1980s and 1990s, where he averaged more than 1,500 yards rushing per season and came close to breaking the NFL career rushing record before retiring.
Sanders was legendary for his ability to find holes in defensive lines and charge through them for big gains. Once in the open field, it took a committee to tackle him. He was so elusive that it was nearly impossible for a solo defender to take him down. Defensive linemen who thought they had him lined up found themselves putting their arms around air because Sanders could change direction on a dime while in full flight. Even if defenders got an arm or a hand on him, Sanders was a master at breaking tackles by spinning and keeping his legs moving.
And when Sanders took a hit, he almost always bounced to his feet, ready for more.
All of the major professional sports have had small players rise to great success. Currently, David Ferrer of Spain is ranked number four in the world for mens singles tennis. He is just five-foot-nine. There are no other players in the top 10 under six feet tall and number 11, Canadas Milos Raonic stands six-foot-five.
Spud Webb enjoyed a long career as an NBA point guard, even winning the league slam-dunk contest one year, despite being just five-foot-seven. Mugsy Bogues, the shortest NBA player ever at just five-foot-three, played in the league for 14 years and still holds numerous team records with the Charlotte Hornets.
Although they were less than inspiring individuals away from the sports arena, hockeys Theoren Fleury (five-foot-six) and boxings Mike Tyson (five-foot-ten) were small men who accomplished major success in a big mans game.
Herzig doesnt need to reach this level of fame to prove himself. Just by suiting up, pulling down his helmet and heading out onto the field against boys much bigger than him, hes a winner in ways the scoreboard can never reflect and an inspiration not just for all of the other kids on the field but for all us adults on the sidelines.
-- Managing editor Neil Godbout