Sunday, April 2, 2017

Praise the Lord and Go Dawgs

I believe more often than not, athletics play too large a role in our lives - a distraction, all too often, from the more important things that we fail to show passion for. But then, there are stories like the one we've followed the last few days.

 Everyone's got a story. Morgan William has got a story that the media is loving to tell- a heart rendering feel good story that makes for good tv.

 Yet I've got a little different take on it all. Every kid's got a story. Some are more dramatic, some more compelling, some very private.

The greatest story here seems to me to be about something bigger; the actual thing that draws us to this team of young women that most of us never gave a thought about until recently - the thing that makes people like me watch women's basketball for the first time -the thing that draws us to athletics in the first place.

What draws us here is the passion of amateurism - the love of the game. Realistically, nobody is playing for a future job, a big contract, national fame or yogurt and shoe commercials. We just see these kids' passion for the game, their teammates, their coaches and their school.

 And what we don't see may be just as important. What we don't see are spoiled athletes with big recruiting parties, kids skipping out on bowl games and their teammates with the blessing of coaches and media because the future money is too big to risk. We don't see players making fools and asses of themselves on social media or in bars - no bongs, gas masks, naked pictures, or temper tantrums - or players with a sense of entitlement.

I listened to a radio commentator with 25 years in the business say that Friday night was the first time he had ever watched a women's basketball game from start to finish. He specifically said that the drive and the passion of the Lady Dawgs was what held his attention.

There are other things that draw us here -

 a coach who didn't just recruit his way here but who actually coached his way here, his display of faith and a genuine and obvious love of his players.

Young women, mostly of color, striving for a goal as a team, no political or social agendas, just a passion to be the best at something. Young women who have managed to inspire their school, their state and many others across the country including an old white guy like myself who hasn't dribbled a basketball in twenty years.

Yeah, day in and day out, athletics can become too important in our lives but sometimes....sometimes they can inspire us, motivate us and make us see each other differently - no politics, no social class, no race.

MSU has only played in one other national title game - 2013 College World Series. It was a valiant and inspiring effort but we came up short. This one feels different. I think these gals have already won.

Praise the Lord and Go Dawgs.