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Feel Good Friday – Extreme Sportsmanship

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Puzzled March 22, 2013, 4:09 am

    I mean really, you had to make me cry this early in the morning? What a nice story!

  • Anne March 22, 2013, 6:10 am

    I have tears, too. Lovely story.

  • Jennifer March 22, 2013, 6:21 am


  • Serena March 22, 2013, 6:29 am

    With all the bad news we read every day about today’s youth, it’s so nice to see the other side. Beautiful.

  • coralreef March 22, 2013, 6:55 am

    Young gentlemen, the whole lot of them, on both teams. Their parents must be soooo proud of them.

  • gail March 22, 2013, 6:59 am

    So many people acting with so much class. Bravo!

  • Joni March 22, 2013, 7:07 am

    No, I’m not crying. That’s just… hay fever. Yeah.

  • Susan T-O March 22, 2013, 7:13 am

    Proof that it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

  • AMC March 22, 2013, 7:15 am

    You hear sad stories all the time about young people doing terrible things to each other. It’s nice to finally hear one about a kid treating another with compassion.

  • Mojo March 22, 2013, 8:00 am

    How wonderful people can be, when they think of others first.

  • Joanne M March 22, 2013, 8:20 am

    Goodness, I thought I saw where the story was going… Now my students ae going to see their teacher with teary eyes! Great story!

  • Anonymous March 22, 2013, 8:41 am

    I’ve seen this, and on the one hand, it’s a nice story of sportsmanship and compassion, but on the other hand, I wasn’t thrilled with it. Mitchell didn’t earn the right to play in the final game of the season, because he hadn’t played as a member of the team for the games up to that point, nor had he practiced with them, because he wasn’t a true member of the team; he was the team manager or somesuch. When he repeatedly missed the basket, this shows that he wasn’t able to play at the same level as the other players, so they felt they had to keep “feeding him the ball” so he could “have his moment.” So, the focus of the game shifted from “the game” to Mitchell. Now, I know it’s “just a game,” but what if there had been a college scout there to watch some of the more senior players? If that was the case, then that scout wouldn’t have gotten an accurate picture of those players’ abilities. Also, when someone from the other team passed Mitchell the ball, didn’t he know that something was amiss? I mean, maybe he was mentally handicapped, but if basketball was his passion, then surely he’d know the rules of the game, right? If he knows the rules of basketball, then surely he’d know that his “moment of glory” after scoring a basket, was counterfeit.

    If Mitchell really wanted to play basketball, but couldn’t play at a level comparable to the other students on the high school basketball team, then there are other teams outside the school that he could have played on–some recreational leagues through churches, community centres, or the YMCA or similar, and there are even teams designed specifically for people with various disabilities. I don’t really understand why Mitchell would have wanted to be team manager for a team he wasn’t going to be allowed to really play on, when he could have signed up for a different team, and gotten to play. I don’t think it was right for the coach of Mitchell’s team (and, to an extent, the other team) to pressure their players into not playing their best so that they could make the game all about Mitchell.

    • admin March 22, 2013, 9:20 am

      What you are saying is that athletically gifted, “normal” players deserve every second of every minute of the game to selfishly pursue their personal goals of impressing college talent scouts with their ball handling skills, as if the prior 38 minutes of play was not enough time to demonstrate this and therefore the last minute and a half of the last game of the season must not be squandered on the athletically undeserving.

      And how do you know Mitchell wasn’t playing in a different league more suited to his abilities? This story is only about his enthusiastic service as manager to his high school team which was rewarded by his coach.

  • KarenK March 22, 2013, 8:51 am

    Great kids! Feel Good Fridays almost always make me tear up!

  • WildIrishRose March 22, 2013, 9:18 am

    Finally! A story about high school kids who aren’t raping or bullying other high school kids! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Anonymous March 22, 2013, 10:37 am

    @Admin–I thought that the story would mention it if Mitchell played on a different basketball team (recreational, inclusive, whatever) outside of school, because the story showed several shots of him playing basketball in his driveway, and talked about how much he loved the game, so I figured that if he played on another team, they’d show that too. As for the crux of the matter, well, this never would have happened if Mitchell hadn’t been mentally handicapped. Suppose he wasn’t, and he’d tried out for the basketball team, not made it, and become team manager, and the coach decided to “give him his moment” at the end of the game, and effectively “make sure” he scored a basket? People would probably think it was inappropriate and patronizing, including Mitchell–especially when the player from the opposing team passed him the ball. As I said, I’m surprised he didn’t know what was going on as it is–I mean, mentally handicapped or not, he knows the rules of basketball, as it’s his passion.

    As for your comment about “selfishly pursuing one’s personal goals,” how is it “selfish” to work hard at something, in order to achieve something you’ve set out to do? If you join something that has tryouts, like the varsity basketball team, or an advanced orchestra, or something of that nature, then the nature of the beast is that some people make it, and others don’t. There are similar organizations that are focused on “just for fun” and “equal involvement for all,” but in the case of varsity basketball, the focus is different–it’s about preparing the players for a higher level of play, possibly at the college and university level. So, I think it’s a little harsh and unfair to claim that it’s “selfish” to be in something for what it claims to be focused on–I mean, you wouldn’t call every varsity player who’s working towards an athletic scholarship “selfish,” would you? If anything, I think it was a little “selfish” of the coach to decide to make Mitchell the “star” at the end of the game, without consulting any of the other players, who’d worked hard at basketball all season. Sure, Mitchell did deserve to be rewarded for his hard work as team manager, but they could have rewarded him in a way that wouldn’t have affected the game, such as giving him the game ball or something.

  • goodgrandma March 22, 2013, 10:42 am

    I would think a scout would be impressed by the sportsmanship shown by these teams. After the 38 minutes of competitive play on which to base his evaluation, the last 2 minutes surely would have enlightened him as to the calibre of these players.

  • dahllaz March 22, 2013, 11:51 am

    I can think of a few things a scout might notice about the athletically gifted team members in the last minute and a half.

    These young men have good character.

    These young men are not selfish.

    These young men know that there is more that goes into being a team, a unit, than just putting the ball in the basket.

    If all it took was just raw talent to be a winning team, then being a team wouldn’t be important. It’d just be five individuals doing their own thing on the court.

  • Lovemykids March 22, 2013, 11:54 am

    I hope I am raising the kind of kids who would think to do this someday.

  • Weaver March 22, 2013, 11:58 am

    Anonymous: It’s one game, for Pete’s sake. Any college talent-spotter worth their salt isn’t going to have their judgment skewed by this moment of spirit. If Mitchell and the other kids are happy, let them enjoy it.
    I thought it was a lovely story.

  • NoelF March 22, 2013, 12:26 pm

    Me thinks I smell a whiff of Troll in the air or later Anon is going to go out and inform small children there is no Easter Bunny and prehaps kick a puppy.

  • Jessiebird March 22, 2013, 2:29 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes. How inspiring. You always hear how cruel kids are to those who are “different” but I have never seen that to be the case. I worked with special ed kids for a short time at a middle school, and the other students were almost always helpful and inclusive to the special needs kids.

  • WildIrishRose March 22, 2013, 2:32 pm

    Anonymous, what is your problem? Dahllaz is right–any good scout would have gotten a sense of the players’ abilities long before Mitchell hit the court; and after he was put in the game, any good scout would have seen the amazing character displayed by the “regular” players in helping him have fun playing. As for the player on the other team–kudos to that young man for getting in the spirit of this last minute of play, rather than being a jerk because his team was losing. I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I would LOVE to have seen this game!

  • Anonymous March 22, 2013, 3:34 pm

    All right, I’m sorry for what I said before. This is a nice story, Mitchell is a wonderful young man full of school spirit, and his teammates (and the player on the other team who passed him the ball) are all wonderful people as well. However, I don’t appreciate being called a “troll” or accused of “kicking puppies and telling children there is no Easter Bunny” just because I calmly and rationally disagreed with the prevailing opinion before, and outlined my reasons for disagreeing. Nevertheless, I understand now that I probably should have kept my opinions to myself, because this story was presented on “Feel Good Friday,” rather than as an “etiquette situation/question” that gets posted on Mondays through Thursdays. In future, I will remember that Monday through Thursday is up for debate, but Feel Good Friday is not. Again, I apologize for upsetting people on Feel Good Friday.

  • NostalgicGal March 22, 2013, 3:58 pm

    Anon, having an opinion is fine. If the players were okay with it, the coaches were okay with it, and the refs were okay with it, giving the fellow his moment; is what it was about. The game was already sorted it seemed; and it was a feel good moment.

    We all have a right to our opinion… and that’s what this forum is about, amongst other things.

    I think any scout in the audience would be honored to watch not one but two teams, do this for one person. They all deserve their kudos.

  • Margaret March 23, 2013, 11:04 am

    Anon, I understand what you’re saying but this was the coach’s decision, not Mitchell’s. And even if Mitchell plays in Special Olympics, it’s likely not affiliated with his high school, the crowds aren’t the same, the people you know aren’t the same. School spirit is drummed into students from day one but most kids with disabilities can’t participate in ANYTHING fully. There are so many things that special needs kids are left out of in school settings that I think the coach wanted Mitchell to be a real part of the basketball team and not just the team manager just for the day.

    I like the message that there’s more to life than the game that both teams seemed to understand. If only that attitude were more prevalent in Steubenville, Ohio……

    JessieBird, I have seen a lot of kids be mean to special needs kids in the past – talking about the last 15 to 20 years or so. Usually the attitude is set by the coaches, administrators, and popular students. If they are kind, it’s a good place to be. I’ve seen both kinds of places.

  • AS March 23, 2013, 12:04 pm

    @Anonymous: Feel Good Friday entries are sometimes up for debate too, because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But as with any of the other entries, FGF debates are open to people not agreeing with you. And that is exactly what happened with your opinion; none of the others who commented agreed with you. You are welcome to express your opinion. But you also have to be open to the fact that many others may not agree with you, and there is no reason to be bitter about it.

    And let us face it; I don’t necessarily agree with everything that NoelF said in the post, but what Anonymous said can does border on someone trying to troll the forum. It is hard for lot of us to imagine that selfish competitiveness should always trump sportsmanship in all games. We hear of heart-warming sportsmanship even in competitions like the summer and winter Olympics. And this was only a high school game, with a bunch of very well behaved high-schoolers. Humanity still exists because there are such small things that are nice in everyday life that lights up our days.

  • AS March 23, 2013, 12:06 pm

    Coming to the submission, it is beautiful and heartwarming! Thank you for posting it, admin. After reading and hearing of entitled people all over the place, it is nice to see teenagers who light up the hearts of many people.

  • Anonymous March 23, 2013, 3:49 pm

    @AS–There’s disagreeing, and then there’s jumping to the conclusion that I’m an evil person who kicks puppies and tells children that there’s no Easter Bunny (or Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, or that Kermit the Frog is just a puppet). I actually love animals and children, but that’s beside the point of this thread. I still think it’s a nice story, but I’m kind of on the fence–I’ve actually read the news story on other pages, and read through some of the comments, and most people unreservedly love this story, but there are a few people in there who think that it’s kind of patronizing that the players effectively stopped playing so that Mitchell could score a basket. Interestingly enough, one such person was a mother of a developmentally-disabled child, who said that she finds the pity to be almost as difficult to take as the discrimination and hatefulness toward her son. So, I’m changing my answer, sort of–I’m happy with this story, if everyone involved is happy with it as well, and it seems that they are. That isn’t to say that this kind of gesture is a one-size-fits-all thing that any developmentally-disabled person in Mitchell’s situation would love, but the coach and the other players seemed to know Mitchell well enough to know that he’d be happy with it, and they were right.

  • penguin tummy March 25, 2013, 1:15 am

    It was nice to see all these guys forgot the score and just play a game as a team.

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