Saturday, October 25, 2014

A champion's gesture

So, you want to know why high school sports, if not purer than the college or professional strain, at least seem more reflective of the sort of things sports is supposed to teach?

Let me take you out to the state of Washington.

Let me take you to Marysville Pilchuck High School in suburban Seattle, where on Friday a student walked into the cafeteria with a gun and opened fire, killing one and shooting several others in the head before turning the gun on himself.

It says much about where we are as a country (barely civilized) and our obsession with firearms (pathological) that nothing in the aforementioned paragraph evokes much more than weary resignation, because we've read it so many times. What once was horrific barely qualifies as news anymore in the United States of Armament.

What is news is how a rival high school reacted.

Pilchuck, see, was scheduled to play Oak Harbor last night for the Wesco 3A North division football title. The game, of course, was canceled. But Oak Harbor went beyond that.

It decided to accept second place as a gesture of sympathy for its rival school.

Maybe it would, but I can't imagine this happening on many other levels. It goes against every instinct competitive sports hammers into us. And yet it maybe answers a deeper instinct that too often gets lost everywhere but high school sports.

Which is: More than winning, it's respecting your opponent that matters. Because you share a commonality with your opponent that no one else shares.

Or as Nicholas Alonso, a senior cornerback at Pilchuck, reportedly put it on Twitter: "Big shout out to Oak Harbor for taking 2nd Place in Wesco North. You guys are the real League Champions."


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