It was bizarre how it brought out the best and the worst in the crowd.
We went to the high school basketball game last night. I love basketball. I love the never-stop, run-run-run, high scoring action. I love high school basketball because of the community that it envelops. But I have to say, high school basketball has changed since I was a student.
Maybe that’s not what I mean. Maybe I mean that high school basketball in Utah is a totally different world than in Indiana.
For instance, in Indiana, basketball is not a democracy. I never, ever, in all my years watching Indiana basketball, saw a player talk a referee out of a call. Or even try to. Or saw his coach let him. But last night, the red team consistently chatted up the refs after almost every call that they disagreed with. Then they swore. Loudly. And don’t even get me started on the coach (for the other team – our coach is a gentleman) because holy cow, it reminded me of that scene in HOOSIERS where Gene Hackman is trying to get kicked out of the tournament. Remember that?
I think I saw 4 technical fouls.
And our fans. Oh, it made me sad. There was really rotten sportsmanship, and we (as a group) were stinky with it. It made it hard for me to love the game.
I have to back up. There’s this community trauma going on right now where I live. There is a senior at the high school who is on the wrestling team. This sport is huge in my town, HUGE. Two weeks ago, this boy got into a hold and was dropped on his head (don’t quote me on that – I wasn’t there). Whatever the cause, the effect was that he snapped his neck and is paralyzed from the neck down (ala Christopher Reeve). In two weeks of constant hospital monitoring, he’s now got some feeling throughout his body (but no movement). It is a miracle that he’s alive, but a tragedy that he’s broken. The kids in town have rallied, making and buying and wearing “Super Dale” T-shirts, which looked so cute on all the cheerleaders last night. It was one of those things that make your heart glad. At the game, T-shirts went flying through the crowd as gifts. It was great. Then, at half time, the cheerleaders passed around Super Dale buckets, asking for “loose change to make a change.” In five minutes, they raised $1500 to help with his hospital bills. And plenty of that change came from the visitors’ bleachers. At the risk of running all cheesy, I have to say it was precious. I got misty. The town (and the rivals in the red bleachers) stepped up, each doing a very little to make a difference.
And I thought, how did both those feelings come out of the same gym? How did I get so discouraged, so disgusted, at the same event that also made me near tears of gratitude?
Maybe it’s the setting.
Hear my prayer: Oh, please. Take me not back to High School.