Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lessons in Basketball

I’ve never been a fan of basketball, either to play or watch the sport.  Our son has changed my mind.   He has played several seasons now for our church league and his  enjoyment of the game and camaraderie with teammates is clearly seen.

From where I sit, it isn’t just a well-organized league with fun opportunities for the kids, it’s a practice of our daily christian living.  I have witnessed some heartwarming actions from the parents, coaches and referees.  When Ben played in the young schooling league (under 8)  one referee in particular held my admiration.  He made a point to help the smallest kids, directing them, helping them dribble, and asking the taller ones to allow the little ones a chance at a basket.  He set a great example.

More recently, this year, Ben is in the older kids league and the games are very fast paced.  Since some churches do not have enough kids for a team, the league assigns the kids to other church teams.  We were fortunate to gain Nathan on our team this year.

Nathan has autism and, according to his father (who is a Presbyterian minister), he has not had much success in participating in team sports.  Nathan needs to understand activities in small steps and with kind patience.   The happy look on Nathan’s face tells me that he enjoys making a successful pass to a teammate as much as sitting on the bench with his new friends.  Greg, our team coach, has worked with Nathan and demonstrated this kind patience and guidance on a regular basis.  

At a game a few weeks ago, both teams showed what good sportsmanship is all about.  They quieted their fast pace for a few minutes in the 4th period to allow Nathan the time to dribble in and shoot.  He concentrated, making sure to dribble as coach had showed him, found his spot on the court and gave it his best.  He missed.  He smiled as everyone applauded his great effort.

A lady beside me in the stands whispered, “I’d love to see him make one..”  Again,  Nathan was given a free opportunity.  The teams watched, the stands were silent as Nathan dribbled in again, took position, and shot.  This time the ball found it’s mark and sunk through.  Everyone cheered!!  Nathan’s teammates applauded him and the look on his face has been etched in my heart.

Thank you Lord for hearts turned to Thee.  Glory to You for every good example you provide in building our children’s character and reminding us grown-ups what teamwork and sportsmanship is all about.


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