Thursday, January 4, 2007


A couple nights ago I took my daughters to their first high school basketball game. My girls are almost three, I have a buddy who coaches the varsity team at one of the local high schools and Bonnie needed a break, so I figured it was time. I loaded them in the old station wagon and headed for the gym. When we got there I had a terrible time finding a parking place. As we approached the ticket gate it was obvious that I was getting myself into something. The lobby to the gym where they were selling tickets was packed. There was a lot of confusion as if they weren't really expecting this many people either. Luckily I was pushing through the mob when my buddy's wife happened to show up and somehow she gets me through the crowd and the metal detector and into the gym. As we round the corner and look into the gym, I notice two things, the first quarter is mostly over, and there isn't a seat in the house. It's standing room only. So I followed Tara and her daughter (who is also three) and the five of us sat in the seats that her father-in-law had saved for her and her daughter.

So at least we have a seat and I finally look around a little to see what's happening. You know when you are in the middle of a situation where you are a little out of sorts and you are trying to figure out what to do, you get tunnel vision. Well I knew the place was full, but now that I was in a seat I realized that this place is FULL. It was like all these individuals had packed themselves into this place and become one entity. The crowd. The place was pulsing with humanity. And there is nothing more alive than a crowd, especially a crowd of mostly high schoolers. It was loud. It was hot. I could feel the humidity of breath and sweat. It was close. It was frenetic. It was my girls first basketball game. The entire first half they sat and watched. I thought any minute one of them would lose it and we would have to leave. But they watched the scene with eyes open. I wasn't sure what they thought of it until the next day Ella asked Bonnie, "Do you remember when we watched the boys chase the man with the whistle?" I never thought of basketball in those terms, but it has been a long time since I was three.

We make it through the first half and things seem to relax a little. The people around us got up and the deck got shuffled and we somehow got enough room that the girls could stand up and even eat a few Cheerios. The second half began with my buddy's team losing by five or six. I knew that his team was pretty good this year from an article I had read in the paper a few weeks back. What I didn't know is that this game was against one of the other top schools in the district from across town. This is why the place was packed. It had been a long time since I had been to a high school basketball game and it made it even more fun knowing that my friend was the coach right in the middle of the whole thing. The second half went back and forth and the crowd didn't back down at all. Really the crowd seemed to get worse. About mid-way through the fourth quarter I noticed the home team cheerleaders were out in the middle of the floor during a time-out directing a cheer to the opposing cheerleaders. I couldn't make out the words, but from the crowd's reaction they were taunting the opposing school. During the next time-out one of the visitor's cheerleaders began doing back hand springs down the length of the gym which was followed by three of the home team's cheerleaders doing the same on the other side of the gym to the delight of both schools spirited fans. I played basketball in high school so maybe I was just oblivious to what the cheerleaders did, but I don't remember this type of exchange, ever. Plus there was never a crowd at any of our games since we were pretty rotten. All this just adds to intensity of the crowd. The game went down to the wire with my buddy's team making a comeback in the last two minutes and winning the game.

The game ends. The home team wins. The fans are happy. We say our good-byes and thank-yous and exit the building. On the way back to the car one of the home team cheerleaders is explaining the game to her dad who had come to pick her up. I overheard her telling him the highlights of the game. She told him about how she and the other cheerleaders had done a certain cheer and how they had put the opposing team's cheerleaders in their place and the crowd went wild. I mean she was excited about the game. She literally bounded and jumped and cheered her way all the way to her car. That was the game she saw. You know everyone there saw the same game, but they each saw a different game. I saw my friend's team come from behind and win a significant game in the district. His wife saw her husband's team play well for their coach. The parents saw their sons win or lose as the case may be. And Ella saw a bunch of boys chasing the man with the whistle. It was the same game, but many different perspectives. To the cheerleader "the game" was between cheer leading squads. That was the most important thing that happened in there. Ask any player and they are probably clueless as to what happened between the cheering squads. I don't think it is wrong for us all to see it differently. Each of us has a little different reality.

I think the point of this story is this. We should be alright with other's reality. As a matter of fact, maybe we should take the time to notice and find out what those other realities are. Maybe we could make a bigger impact in the world if we could see what others see. The homeless. The poor. The brokenhearted. The outcasts. We all live in the same world. We all breathe the same air. But we don't all share the same reality.

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