Thursday, March 21, 2013
Rant #925: Basketball For All
Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of leaving work early--always a pleasure indeed--and watching my son play in a basketball game.
This wasn't just any basketball game. It was between his school and another local high school, and it signified the end of the Challenger basketball season.
The Challenger league is an excellent idea, devised by educators so that every child is included in athletics.
The league is for kids who used to be forgotten, kids with physical, mental and emotional problems. My son has a learning disability, so he qualifies, but really, any kid who falls into these areas is eligible to play.
A couple of local schools are in this league, and they play a short schedule, but it is fun, a good experience for these kids, kids who in my day were completely forgotten.
The rules are bent to the limit in this league. No double dribbles, no walking with the ball, and few fouls are called. But the kids run up and down the court the best they can, and you can tell they are having a lot of fun.
And when they score a basket--sometimes with a lot of help--you can see how they beam with pride.
With yesterday's contest being the final game of the season, it was almost as if this game was a championship game. There are winners and losers--my son's team lost--and the atmosphere was playoff-like.
The place was absolutely packed--there must have been at least 200 people in attendance--and the cheerleaders cheered, the fans cheered, and everyone had a great time. There was even an announcer to speed things along.
This is a great idea, and I wish more schools would opt into this league.
In my day, anybody but the real athletes were excluded from school-sponsored athletics.
I personally loved sports, loved to play them, but it seemed that no one cared about me.
And I was just a kid who wasn't athletic--you can imagine how kids with disabilities were treated sports-wise during those years.
But now, everyone is included, which I think is great. There is no reason why these kids can't play sports, too. Sure, they aren't varsity players, but some of them are actually pretty good, and everyone has fun, so it is all good.
My son scored four points, got a couple of rebounds, and even committed a foul. But the look on face told me that statistics weren't really that important.
The rush that he was getting from playing was the most important thing.
On the weekend, he participates in a bowling league much along the same lines, although it is completely separate from the school.
The kids have disabilities, but they also have lots of fun.
And my wife and I are very proud of him. I really wish he would participate even more--every sport from baseball to lacrosse has a league for kids like him--but he enjoys what he does, and we love it that he is so active.
Sports really is for everyone. Like music, it is a universal language that jumps over every barrier.
And everyone can participate if they want to, and this league proves that no matter what the level these kids are on, they can have fun.
And I had fun too.
Posted by Larry at 2:55 AM