Blog Your Blessings: Basketball in the Big, Bad City
Two weeks ago my daughter had a basketball game in Waterbury. The local white bread was a wreck. Some (very vocal) parents recalled hearing profanity the last time they were at a game in the Brass City. The gym smelled like disinfectant. The neighborhood? Let's not go there. Really. The girls had heard they'd be up against a good team. They were worried about losing the game. Unlike their parents, they were unconcerned about the poverty or racial background of these kids.
The gym was, in fact, beautiful and clean. The parents for the local kids were great. The refs, awesome.
The Waterbury girls? Out of this world good. They were so fast that they forced our girls to think on their feet as a team. No longer had the three strongest players the luxury of playing among themselves, ignoring the other girls on the floor. The cliques dissolved as our snobs rapidly realized they couldn't go it alone. The Waterbury girls threw them off their game a bit, too, and suddenly they noticed there were other stars in the universe.
Our girls rose to the high standard set by the girls in the ghetto. And they lost beautifully. They left the gym satisfied that they came very close because they played very well.
The game was the great leveler that day. It didn't much matter what was parked in the lot outside the gym or who wore glass and who had diamonds. It's lovely, too, that money can't buy skill. Lovelier still that kids who think they're all that in their own little worlds discover the standards are high outside that private place. That poor kids can work to a high standard--graciously.
Last week, the clique reemerged on the court, and we lost the ball or the shot more than once as a result. We lost. This time, though, the girls knew it was a matter of spirit, not skill. Maybe they won't forget.