Friday, March 9, 2012


I know I've posted before about how overwhelming the boys' sports schedules can get. This weekend was a DOOZIE. We had end-of-season basketball playoffs for both boys (granted, Caleb's was a one-game playoff, but still!), and Jacob's baseball team had a pre-season the Dallas area. So, we had the potential for four basketball games, and a minimum of three baseball games. In one weekend. I admit, I wasn't exactly looking forward to the weekend.

But something amazing happened. I was reminded what I love about the boys playing sports.

Friday night, in a really intense game (though the Tigers were up by quite a bit, it was still very intense), one of Jacob's teammates – the Tigers' leading scorer and a leader on the team, not to mention just an all-around great kid fell. He fell HARD. He fell so hard that he broke his forearm COMPLETELY in two. (Okay, bear with me here, the broken arm is NOT what I love about sports; it is, of course, a great fear I have about sports.) I didn't see the fall because Sam was tap dancing on the stands, but I heard the gasp from the crowd, and turned in time to see him stand back up (not sure how he did that - adrenaline, maybe?) see his arm dangling as if it had a second elbow, and let out a horrific, haunting scream. Of course the game was stopped and he was rushed off to the emergency room. The Tigers went on to win the game, but it was a very subdued win.

So, what good DID come of it? The parents all pulled together. We all cheered for both sides the rest of the game. Parents from the other team consoled upset moms from our team. After the game, the Tigers’ head coach and his wife, and Bryan and Jacob went to check on and support their teammate. I know other parents and teammates visited the next day, after Saturday morning’s game.

Because of Friday night’s victory, Saturday morning the Tigers had a rematch against one of the three teams they lost to during the season, the Steel. This game was ten times as intense as Friday night's game. The winner of this game went to the championship game. The Tigers were playing for their missing teammate; they rotated wearing an armband with his number on it. The teams traded two point leads for the first half. Most of the second half the Tigers held a two-point lead, until the Steel tied it up almost at the buzzer. Yes, folks, we were headed to OT. I was more nervous about this OT than I was the Mavericks championship game.

In the end, the Steel got the better of the Tigers. It was a clean game, and the teams were well matched. Our boys were SO disappointed; many were in tears after the game. As the Tigers broke from their post-game team huddle, Tiger families started clapping for them...And then...the whole gym was clapping. All the Steel players (who had another game to prepare for) and parents gave our boys an amazing round of applause. Several parents and players came over individually to congratulate our boys on a game well-played. It was sportsmanship at its best. I still get chills thinking about it.

And isn't that what it's all about? Isn't youth sports supposed to be about learning the game and learning sportsmanship? The skill of being a gracious winner and a good loser is one of the most important skills one can learn in life. I want Jacob and his teammates to be able to look back one day and appreciate the adversity and injuries they overcame this season to make it to the final four teams in their league. I want them to look back and remember how they all came together, and how, even in their final loss, they were applauded like the champions they truly were. It's that feeling I want them to keep in their hearts. It's that feeling I want them to pass on to other teams and kids in their future. And while I sometimes (okay, probably more than sometimes) lament having given up weekends to sports activities, I know that these important skills are often not learned - or certainly not learned as well - anywhere else.

So for that, I say, PLAY ON, boys. PLAY ON.

Julie Daneman is wife to Bryan, Stepmom to Jacob and Caleb, and Mommy to Sam. They are a boisterous, loving, happy interfaith family.

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