Saturday, January 24, 2009

And the Last Shall Be First

I was a cheerleader once. Can you believe that? I wasn't a very good cheerleader; I never could stay in synch with the other girls. And ours wasn't a very good basketball team; they apparently couldnt' stay in synch with one another, either. A ragtag team from a tiny Catholic K-8 in Charleston, SC, it was probably the worst basketball team, in fact, that ever took to the court.

Funny, I hadn't thought about it in years until I read this AP story this morning.

Here's the news story, in short: Last week in Texas, a private girl's school basketball team beat another private school's team 100-0. It was 50-0 at half-time and the winning team apparently decided to make a show out of it, throwing three-pointer after three-pointer, purposely driving up the score as high as they could. The other team, from a school that had only 20 girls in its high school and eight girls on its team, didn't have a chance. It was a resounding rout.

I don't know about you, but where I come from, they call that poor sportsmanship. I'm sure the motivation was no more malicious than in-the-moment euphoria, and they were immediately ashamed of themselves afterward. Nevertheless, the underdog team played doggedly through, ladies until the end. No evidence of rancor in any of them. Bless those girls. The other team's coach has publicly apologized, a gesure that wasn't necessary for the losing team.

They already knew they were the winners.

I know, because I remember the same kind of feeling. Flashback to a banquet hall in Charleston SC, in the spring of 1976:

Our pathetic basketball team hadn't won a single game all season, so the awards ceremony meant little more to our team than a chance to tuck in and enjoy the buffet. Everyone knew who the winning teams would be and accepted it without a thought. Our team had had fun playing the games throughout the season, and everyone had tried his hardest, but we knew we just didn't have enough talent. So our boys ate second and third helpings from the dessert table and watched as the star teams paraded up to take their trophies. It really didn't bother any of us, but we did feel a little sorry for our parish priest, Fr. Patat, the world's biggest sports fan. How could it not have pained him that there was only one boy on our team that could actually make a basket and everyone else was too apologetic to defend him? Still, he seemed to be enjoying himself, laughing with the parents and drinking coffee. Which he choked on when he heard the name of our school called from the podium.

He walked up, a little bewildered, turning to look down on his kids with a little shrug. We all shrugged back, as puzzled as he was. Then, to our shock, the official at the podium handed Father an award and told him that it was the first time in that league that they had ever had a unanimous decision on the Best Sportsmanship Award. We all sat watching, limp with shock, as Father accepted the trophy. We could barely hear him as he said simply "Thank-you," and then we all choked up ~ because we could see that Father had tears streaming down his cheeks and couldn't say any more than that. We knew he was prouder than if we'd won first place in the league.

And in that instant, we understood, and were proud of ourselves, too.
* God bless the soul of Fr. Patat. May his and all the souls of the Faithful Departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


Natalie said...

It may just be my hormones acting up, but little stories like this get me so teary eyed. =)

Bia said...

What a great made me teary-eyed.

One of my pet peeves is the incredible importance that our society places on sports...but a story like this just reinforces the true meaning of sportmanship.

I love the fact that you were a cheerleader!

When I was a freshman in college our school were required to add another women's sport team, so for the first time they had a volleyball team. No tryouts...and since I liked volleyball, I signed up.

So now I can tell my boys that I played on a college team. Of course, they laugh and laugh when they hear about our sad season...only one win, but hey! I got to travel on a bus and experience the whole college sports experience...sleeping in motels, having the college pay for our meals, etc.

I still love the fact that you were a cheerleader...any photos?

Aubrey said...

What a GREAT story! Here in Nebraska, we'd call it poor sportsmanship if another team ran up the score like that! Shame on their coach for allowing it. :(

Your post made me smile. Thanks!

Lisa said...

Natalie ~ I get teary eyed remembering it, too. &;o)

Bia ~ I hate it, too, when sports becomes a "religion" ~ which it does for many, I'm afraid. But, in proper perspective, it can be a good thing, too, huh?

I love that you got to be on a college team! There is much that can be gained by just the experience. That one year as a cheerleader was the closest I ever got to organized sports, though, I'm afraid. I'm not sure if there are any pics, but that would be an interesting find for me, as well... I may have to raid my parents' photo stash to see if any exist!

Marie said...

You have a surprise at View from the Pews:) take a peek.

I have to admit I was a klutz at sports and always the last one chosen heehee!

But I remember joining an online American football pick and the Americans laughed that I would come last( I knew nothing about American football!) Well! After reading that I was determined to TRY and get into the top FIVE against a team of 14! And I did! YAY! I even beat the OWNER of the Footy Tips Page YAY!

I had never watched so much American football in my life..but I worked it out....they all kinda bunch together in the middle and chat and then throw the thingy ball to one person who kinda runs the field and they call it a TOUCHDOWN! How did I make it in the TOP FIVE LOL!

With love and laughs

Marie xooxoxoxoo

MightyMom said...