Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Football - Not My Favorite Sport, but an Amazing Lesson

I do not love football.  There, I said it, I don't.  Even as a high school girl I didn't enjoy it.  I enjoyed the friends and the hanging out at the stadium, but not the sport.  In fact I still don't understand the game.  I have had many patient friends try and explain it to me, but alas, no comprendo. It seems like a silly game to me, one with very little point.  (Okay, I know I have just angered a large number of football loving people out there, sorry. And to be clear, I am referring to American football, not soccer, which has an obvious set of rules.)

I understand that football is an important part of the American experience.  Just the number of feel good football movies out there would have tipped me off to that even if I hadn't watched my male friends go through the fire of football in high school.

So why do I bring this up?  Good question.  Every so often a story comes along to warm my heart.  This week that story just happened to be about football. I realize high school football is very important to not only the players and parents, but the school itself.  A lot of school identity comes from the final score.  (Not to mention a lot of fund raising opportunities.)  I saw this story come across my news feed last night and I was touched.

It appears a high school team was in a shut out situation, unfortunately they were on the losing end of that shut out.  At the very end the coach asked the other team to allow one of their team members, a 15 year old boy with Down Syndrome, to have a touchdown.  They asked that the other team make it look good, but not touch him while he was running down the field. The other team agreed.  They ran what they called "Matt's Play."  If you click on the link above you can see the footage of the opposing team chasing him just enough to help him feel the rush of success and the victory of a touchdown.

This is an amazing story because a group of high school boys and their coach gave up a complete 46 point shut out so another team could give a moment of victory to a special player.  That is not something you see every day.  They gave up bragging rights for the entire game. They took the spotlight off their win and gave it to Matt.  They sacrificed for an opponent.  That is a lesson they will take into adulthood, something that will make them better people.  They created a situation which changed lives.  I may give football another try.

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