I wrote very late Wednesday night after attending my son’s game at GT Bray. Sadly, the game did not end well. I wanted to share my thoughts and concerns as a mother, member of the community and a citizen. In a time when our country and moral ethics are being tested, we clearly have a lot to learn, even at a child’s basketball game.
Where did we go wrong and where do we go from here?
On a day when most of America was analyzing the history that is unraveling and bracing for the future that is so clearly uncertain, I felt compelled to reflect on the day’s events. Ironically, this is not politically driven, but driven rather by, in my opinion, the more important aspects of humanity, humility and ethics.
My evening, like most parents’ evenings, revolved around my children. This was the last game of the season for my son’s recreational basketball league. His division is co-ed ages 10-12. What unraveled in the 60 minutes the game lasted is astonishing, heart-wrenching, eye-opening and, in my opinion, slightly ironic.
As a parent, it is my responsibility to teach right from wrong, instill values and encourage my child to take the high road at times when he may wish to act differently. The lessons are rather elementary, yet incredibly important: “You win some, you lose some,” “Put your best foot forward and try your best,” “Support your coach and teammates,” “The game will not always go your way,” “Just have fun,” and lastly “Respect yourself and others.” We have all heard these sayings before and have likely said them to our children at some point.
This particular game was heated from the get-go, across the board from the refs, coaches, players and parents. On more than one occasion, I turned to another mother in the stands, we both shook our head and said, “This is supposed to be fun, they’re kids.” For the most part, it is always fun. My son loves being part of this league and his team. Anyone with a competitive child around the age of 12 can attest that this is a difficult age.
I often find myself comparing life to his sport and carve out the little life lessons to be learned. Wednesday was no exception. There was no shortage on lessons to be learned, and difficult ones at that. A child from the opposing team was ejected from the game for a series of reasons, primarily lack of sportsmanship. The child was visibly upset as were the parents. Here is where I question our ethics as a society. At what point do we take the moral high road, admit that perhaps our child was wrong and realize there is a bigger lesson to be learned. The picture that was so miserably painted before our children’s eyes that night is where my heart breaks. We must put our pride to the side, silence our desperate, hate-filled attempt to express the fact that we think someone is wrong, ignorant, unfair, etc. Spectators (family and friends) flew from the stands, a huddle of anger formed, threats were made, foul language was spoken and authorities were threatened to be called.
To me, the moral of this story is simple. Neither I, nor anyone in that gym is going to agree on everything. Ever. It’s not possible. Some calls made by the refs (who so graciously volunteer their time to our youth) are going to be in my favor; others are not. Every player in that gym was there for their own reasons. Every parent there has their own set of hopes and dreams they wish to see their child aspire to. Every coach (who also graciously volunteer their time) has their own winning strategy.
All of these reasons brought these refs, players, coaches and parents together. We were there for one reason: to watch our children, the children who are our future, play basketball. To watch them cheer each other on, to watch them make “that” shot, to watch them shake it off and keep moving forward with their heads held high when they needed to. Two teams showed up tonight, unified for one reason. So where did we go wrong? Why did chaos erupt and hate emerge?
As humans, are we so self-consumed that we no longer can identify that we are different yet unified? Ethically speaking, how can we encourage our youth to be the change they hope to see in the world if in the next breath we are spreading the pure poison that is ripping our human race to shreds? I thought to myself, “Are we really unable to sit and watch kids play a recreational basketball game? How are we ever going to accept and welcome the change needed to unify our communities, country and world?”
To me, it is devastating to even compare the two. As adults, we need to lead by example. It should be that simple. The moral of the story is that simple. We are not always going to agree, things are not always going to go “our” way and we are all always going to be beautifully different.
The common thread that ties us all together is that we are human. We are human in our achievements, human in our failures, human in our need for redemption and human in our differences. As humans, I believe we all possess the ability to accept, endure and learn from our mistakes. We all have the ability to nurture and hope for the change needed to become a unified, dignified human race.
Let us teach our children, that through our victories comes the need for humility, and through our weakness comes the need for strength. Let us find the strength to move forward together — one day, one game at a time.
Dayna Camp signed this as a concerned mother, proud American and hopeful human in Bradenton.