Mitchell Marcus, a student with special needs from El Paso, Texas had one passion: Basketball. As manager of the high school basketball team, the sport was his life. On the last game of the season, the head coach played Marcus at the end of the game. While the crowd chanted his name, Marcus' team passed him the ball several times, trying to help him score. His baskets barely spun out.
With only a few seconds left on the clock, it looked like Marcus' chance to score was gone. Then, unbelievably, Jonathon Montanez, a player on the opposing team passed the ball to Marcus. Mitchell Marcus scored his dream shot on the buzzer, to the cheers of the audience.
"I think I'll cry about that for the rest of my life," Mitchell's mother said in the video interview.
Although the schools were rivals, Montanez was able to look past that and pass the ball to someone who needed it most. This moment is one that Mitchell, along with the rest of the audience, will never forget.
Sports provide unique opportunities for growth that only happen through completing an entire season on the court or field. By participating in sports, kids learn valuable lessons about discipline, hard work, dedication, and team work. However, sports can also be intensely heartbreaking. If you've ever watched NCAA March Madness or an Olympics swimming race, you have seen tough-as-nails athletes break down in tears after a hard-fought match. To these athletes, there are few feelings worse than losing on a buzzer shot.
Sometimes sports can become a lifestyle. However, it's important to look outside the game, and ourselves to notice others putting their heart and soul into the sport. Everyone has feelings. If we're not careful, a pick-up game of ping-pong can turn into the match of the century. Here are some ideas on reigning in the competition and teaching sportsmanship:
Always keep a cool head in competitions, and teach your children to do the same thing. If they storm out of the room during an UNO game, tell them it's unacceptable. Keep the conversations light and the smack-talk to a minimum.
If your kids don't come out on top, teach them to be good losers. A handshake after a soccer match goes a long way. A hug after a family card game does even more. Teaching them the importance of these simple gestures will show them what really matters.
Set the example of sportsmanship in your home. This means keeping the perspective that it's just a game, even if your little ones might be beating you. This applies to your spouse - if you have an overly competitive hubby, it's time for him to know that his little ones are watching and learning from him.
If your kids decide to participate in sports, teach them to look out for fellow players, even if they are not on the same team. If someone is hurt on the volleyball court, clap when they are helped to the sideline. If an opponent trips during the state championship race, pick them up and help them cross the finish line, just like this racer did.
Of course, these tips absolutely apply outside of sports. The rules of good sportsmanship apply to school and work, as well. Remember, when you see people like Mitchell Marcus struggling, help them score the shot of their life.