Saturday, October 17, 2009

Come Together...riiiight now...

Teenagers often get a bad rap. As adults, we see the negative first. This past week, I've witnessed the coming together of an entire school over an "ineligibility" of a star football player at my daughter's school.

This particular student's parents are divorced. His mother is apparently suffering from cancer and is undergoing treatment for it. The mother currently has custody of the boy, but he's been living with his grandparents (in our school district) while his mother is undergoing treatments. He is a senior. Long story short, a rival school has lodged an official complaint about this student's attendance at our school, saying that he is in their district. Our high school accepted that he was living with his grandparents, allowed him to attend our school and play for our team. It was ultimately decided that our school team would have to forfeit all games in which this student played. We were 6-0, ranked sixth in our state.

Whether or not he was playing "legally" isn't my real concern. High school football isn't important to me. I am well aware that rules exist for fairness, although, in some circumstances common sense should prevail over "rules." Should this boy have lost his last year of eligibility, because his mother is sick? Not playing his senior year can cost him scholarship money and the chance to go to college. I'm guessing that in order for him to legally live in our district with his grandparents, his mother would have to give up custody of the boy and turn it over to his grandparents.

People writing in to the local papers are demanding that they release the name of this boy and his parents. They want to know who this "cheater" is. They want to be able to punish and humiliate him and his parents. They don't know the whole story. For whatever reason, the school hasn't released the extenuating circumstances of this case. The school principal is appealing the ruling. If and when those circumstances are made public, I hope it will be a reminder to people that one side of the story is rarely the whole story.

That really isn't my point. My point is how the students have responded to this. The student body could have decided to place the blame on this boy who wasn't eligible. They could have taunted him, harassed him and made his life a living hell. After all, he took something from each of them, right?

They didn't. The students, especially the football team, have thrown all of their love and support behind this boy. They have told him that they believe in him. They know, that even if the rules were broken, they weren't broken by this student intentionally. School pride is at an all time high. These kids are seeing past their collective moment of joy and disappointment to rally behind one boy going through one of the most excruciating experiences of his life- possibly losing his chance to go to college, while facing the prospect of losing his mother.

I am proud of our kids. For this one moment in time, they aren't being the selfish, short-sighted people we expect them to be. They are growing up. Seeing the big picture. They are finally understanding that sometimes, winning and glory isn't everything. Being there to lend a hand and support someone is more important than winning.

This football season, win or lose, is unimportant. The football team itself, doesn't really matter.

This team right now is the entire student body. They are finally learning to play the game of life.

I predict a winning season.


  1. I am impressed that the younger members of your community have gotten this one right.

    Sounds like the adults who are obviously way too involved in school district decisions should have to go to detention to think about fairness! Shame on them.

  2. It's a great lesson..from the kids to the parents. Sometimes you should read the whole book, before you write that book report.

  3. Thank-you for writing about this. The truth is everything. GOOD for the kids ....sometimes set the example for us.

    I thought I knew the story, but I guess I only read the book report!

    I hope very much the issue gets resolved in a way that reminds us just how good human beings can be, on occasion.

    Let us know what happens .....