Thursday, February 19, 2009
Another example of Good Sportsmanship
I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the story of Shawn Crawford and his gold medal giveaway. Another story of good sportsmanship... of young athletes making good choices, right choices... This comes from Yahoo and Rivals High High school basketball. 2 teams playing. A Dekalb, IL team traveled to Milwaukee, WI. This was the third time the teams had played each other. Fun, rivalry, familiarity. Coach Rohlman from IL. IL player Darius McNeal. WI player Johntel Franklin. Franklin's mother, age 39, died hours before the game started. She'd been battling cervical cancer for 5 years. She started hemorrhaging that Saturday morning. Late in the afternoon, the decision was made to turn off her life support. The WI coach was going to cancel the game. But Johntel Franklin wanted the teams to play. Early in the second quarter, Womack saw someone out of the corner of his eye. It was Franklin, who came there directly from the hospital to root his teammates on. The Knights had possession, so Womack called a time out. His players went over and hugged their grieving teammate. Fans came out of the stands to do the same. "We got back to playing the game and I asked if he wanted to come and sit on the bench," Womack said during a telephone interview. "No," Franklin replied. "I want to play." There was just one problem. Since Franklin wasn't on the pre-game roster, putting him in meant drawing a technical foul that would give DeKalb two free throws. Though it was a tight game, Womack was willing to give up the two points. It was more important to help his senior guard and co-captain deal with his grief by playing. Over on the other bench, though, Rohlman wasn't so willing to take them. He told the referees to forget the technical and just let Franklin play. "I could hear them arguing for five to seven minutes, saying, `We're not taking it, we're not taking it," Womack said. "The refs told them, no, that's the rule. You have to take them." That's when Rohlman asked for volunteers, and McNeal's hand went up. He went alone to the free throw line, dribbled the ball a couple of times, and looked at the rim. His first attempt went about two feet, bouncing a couple of times as it rolled toward the end line. The second barely left his hand. It didn't take long for the Milwaukee players to figure out what was going on. They stood and turned toward the DeKalb bench and started applauding the gesture of sportsmanship. Soon, so did everybody in the stands. Rohlman asked his team for a volunteer to go to the line and miss those shots. They didn't throw the game. But they didn't agree with the rule about the foul. And chose to not take the points in the only way they could. So the young man got to play without his team being hurt for it. He got to be surrounded by his friends and his coach... maybe be distracted for a couple of hours by this game... and with the full support of everyone in the gym. I think that's pretty special.