By Del Duduit
What are sports all about?
Athletic competition is supposed to bring out the best in all of us.
This moment happens when hours of practices pays off and the player realizes his or her potential. The instance doesn’t have to result in a victory, but the fact that they accomplished what they set out to do is what matters.
But in case you don’t know, there have been some disturbing reports that have come out of Major League Baseball the last few months.
Members of the Houston Astros organization illegally stole signals from other teams and used technology to steal signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. They cheated.
In 2017, the Astros won the World Series.
As a result of their wrongdoing, they were fined five million dollars and forfeited their first and second round draft picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts. Oh, boy. That’ll teach them.
The general manger and field manager were suspended for the entire 2020 season by MLB, then fired from the organization after the punishment was announced.
The Dominoes started to fall, and those people connected with the scheme who had moved on to other teams were also fired.
Was it worth it?
Is this what sports are all about?
It’s not supposed to be about cheating or finding an unethical way to gain an advantage. But we see this all the time in the world that has turned into a lofty business.
Professional and collegiate sports organizations need to take note of what happened at Notre Dame High School in Portsmouth, Ohio on Feb. 3, 2020.
For one night, two high schools put aside their rivalry to join forces to support a great cause. They played to honor Mamie Brisker Pettit, who died in 2018 at the young age of 40.
She passed suddenly while living and working in Panama with her husband, Greg.
Mamie graduated from Minford High School in 1996 and later from Shawnee State University. In high school, she was a standout athlete and took her talents to SSU where she and her sister, Carrie, guided the Bears to a National Championship in 1996 in women’s basketball in their division.
She was elected to the SSU Basketball Hall of Fame and to the Ohio Basketball Association Hall of Fame. She made an impact.
No national media were at the game. No ESPN talent was on hand. There was no big pre-game show with millions of viewers.
But none of that was needed. True sportsmanship – the very essence of what Mamie represented – took center court.
That night for a few hours, rivalries and who scored the most points didn’t matter.
The Lady Titans hosted the Lady Falcons where the junior high, junior varsity and varsity teams all played. One hundred percent of all proceeds from the gate, split-the-pot, a bake sale, and the concession stand went to fund a scholarship in Mamie’s name for a senior from each of the two schools.
Many years ago, I played basketball games in the same gym and later watched my sons play there. But I have never seen the gym as packed as it was last Monday. It was standing room only.
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The two teams, schools, and communities rallied for the cause to remember a great person and to establish a legacy.
“I went to school with Mamie and Carrie, and it’s a special cause for me being a Minford guy and knowing the family so well,” said Notre Dame girls basketball coach J.D. McKenzie. “Tonight, we helped raise a lot of money for the scholarships.”
Robin Hagen-Smith coached Mamie in college and said the turnout and support was phenomenal.
“To do something like this, during the season, is amazing,” she said. “It goes to show you that people can come together for the right reasons. It’s nice to know that people can support something as special as this.”
The Houston Astros and other organizations who have cheated over the years can take a lesson from a tiny town in Scioto County, Ohio.
Community matters. Sportsmanship matters. Honesty matters. Integrity matters.
By the way, Notre Dame (19-2) won the varsity game 68-49 – but on that night – the score wasn’t as important as who really won … the entire student body and community was victorious.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Philippians 2: 3 KJV)
That, my friends, is what sports are all about.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.
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