Second String, First Class
I was doing television broadcasting for a local high school basketball game at the varsity level. I enjoy doing play by play and adding a different perspective to the broadcast that includes recognizing on the air academic excellence and sportsmanship. What should have turned into a fascinating game between two rivals eventually eroded into a blowout in front of a sold out gymnasium.
Two cross town rivals going at it in front of a packed house. The atmosphere was electric even before the junior varsity game was over. High school games in our area consist of four eight minute quarters. The varsity game started out being competitive; both teams played hard and the score was reflected in the players’ willingness to play at a high level of skill, unselfishly and with purpose.
However during the second quarter and the start of the second half one team started to pull away on the scoreboard. The score became lopsided before the third quarter was finished.
This is a broadcaster’s worst nightmare before the third quarter was over. However both these coaches started substituting early in the fourth quarter and with six minutes to go in the game they emptied their benches and put in all their players.
What happened next was outstanding.
Fans from both teams had favorite players, probably classmates and underdogs to cheer for, playing now. The cheering got louder and the play got better. Players from both teams spurred on by the cheers of the crowd and, of course, playing time, real playing time, started to shoot and pass with a skill set and desire that was most impressive. It was on par with what had transpired earlier in the game.
They were all very unselfish. No one player on either team tried to pad their stats by shooting too much or hogging the ball. Players hustled and dove for balls, one even throwing his body on the floor to save a ball from going out of bounds. The crowd went wild, cheering for all the kids and all the plays filled the gym with a feeling of community, teamwork, and appreciation.
Their teammates on the bench would stand and cheer for good plays. The last six minutes of the game became the most entertaining part of the contest. The hustle, desire, teamwork and sportsmanship were on par with other excellent games I had broadcast.
You see it’s not always the most talented players who should be playing. On all teams there should be intra-team competition. I wonder how much more spirited the next practice was when those two teams hit the gym the next day?
What could have been a boring end to a high school basketball game turned into a life lesson for all those who chose to see it. A game that could have gotten out of control, as many blowouts do getting chippy, selfish, and frustrating, did not happen this time in this game. It was a joy to watch.
The coaches and players stopped the Tsunami.