During the championship I watched one of my twins pray as the teams lined up, and pray again as he watched from the bench. After the final buzzer, half the team — including one of my own — had tears in their eyes. They truly looked like they’d lost the NBA Championship. In their hearts, they had.
The final score was 18-17. The only undefeated team ended their season with a red ribbon, not blue.
This is the story of my sons’ basketball season, which ended on Sunday.
They had worked so hard, for two months. They had skill and played like a team. There was a great coach leading the way; two talented offensive players scoring basket after basket; two aggressive power houses who went after the ball no matter how hard the fall; one player who came out of the shadows mid-season to surprise us all; and a four-man defense that kept the competition an average 10-15 points behind per game.
They felt the pressure of playing in the championship. But to the cheering crowd of parents and grandparents, they played their hearts out.
The other team scored first. We had been behind before and at half time we were up, if only by two points.
As it turned out, neither team was ever more than two baskets ahead. In the last 56 seconds, both teams had the ball about four times; be it nerves or defense, neither scored. It was simply a nail-biting great game.
I have never heard so many parents cheer so loudly. We came in second, but the parents, the coaches, the fans, couldn’t have been prouder of both teams.
All three of my boys played on the same 8 and 9-year old team. They have played at the YMCA in the year’s past, but this was their first time in a competitive league. After the first two games, one of my sons said, “Mom, the kids in this league are really good. I want to be really good too.”
This was their first real taste of team and their introduction to the spirit of competition. Due to the coach, the refs, and the other players, their first experience was an extremely positive one. They took away all the good that comes with competition and all the joy and heartache that is being part of a team.
My kids will be back for the Spring season in one month. They are determined to keep at it. I practiced with two of my sons just a couple hours ago.
I realize this isn’t about running, but it is about the art and spirit of sport. And I figure, between Saturday and Sunday my boys played six hours of basketball. That is exactly how many hours I ran. Close enough for me.