Friday, March 14, 2014

Better Than March Madness

By now you probably know which basketball teams were invited to the NCAA big dance.   I am not exactly sure how you fill out your tournament brackets, but in our house we toss out all records and go with team colors, mascots, and catchy names! 

What do you think James Naismith would think of today’s game? When he invented the game of basketball, they actually used a basket.  It took a few games before they realized they could cut out the bottom of the basket, thus saving them, and future players, the job of using a ladder to get the ball out each time a basket was scored. The game has grown and evolved since then from only thirteen rules to over one hundred today.

Yet, one unwritten rule has always been the rule of good sportsmanship.  Do you ever wonder if we have lost our way with today’s madness of win at all costs?   When it comes to big time college sports, do you ever think the phrase “student athlete” is an oxymoron?  Even so, we still see teams shake hands at the end of the game. It is nice to know that remnant of sportsmanship is still alive.

If you want to see the epitome of sportsmanship, watch the YouTube video of the title game between Desert Chapel High School and Trinity Classical Academy.   With forty seconds left in the game, the Trinity Classical Academy coach, who was ahead by twenty five points, sent in Beau Howell. Beau has autism, but is source of inspiration to the team and all their fans. He had never made a basket in a real game in his entire life.  This was his moment.   He took two shots and missed them both!

Now here is the best part. A timeout was called and when Beau went back into the game with twenty seconds left to play, a player from the opposing team gave him the ball and directed him to the hoop.  Beau took a shot and missed again, but the opposing player got the rebound, gave it back to Beau, and moved him closer to the basket. This time, Beau sank the shot to record his first ever official basket.

The fans, players, and coaches erupted with applause and smiles and a few tears.  When the opposing player, whose team had just lost the championship game, was asked why he did it, he simply said, “Why not let him score in the biggest game of his life?”

I wonder where the young man who gave Beau the ball learned the grace that makes him so admirable to us.  Can we do the same with our young people?  God’s holy word does stand as a guide to us.  The prophet Micah said that we are required to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” with God.  Justice, kindness, humility, on or off the court those traits sound like the best of sportsmanship and life.  Can we teach them to our youth by our words and our lives?  The task certainly seems worthy of our best effort.