Small Gestures Matter

This weekend we attended our grandson’s basketball game.  He is 8.  We were in an elementary school gym, a few parents and grandparents scattered around the perimeter sitting in stackable, brightly-colored plastic chairs.  People clapped at every attempt, said things like, “Great try!” quite a bit, and generally enjoyed the game.

But at about thirty minutes in, it was clear that one team (It did happen to be my grandson’s team.) was making all the baskets.  They have a few great little players on the team who can really hustle the ball down the court and sink a shot from the side (quite impressive for 8 year olds). It got to the point where it started to feel awkward for every one of the people sitting in those brightly-colored plastic chairs.  Every time the children on the other (yellow) team threw the ball toward the hoop, you could feel everyone in the gym hold their collective breath, hoping that somehow the ball would arc up just a bit higher and move a little more toward the middle, and somehow make it through that metal ring up there, but…..alas….no.  The shots were not even close.

That’s when our daughter, the coach of the blue team, talked to her young players.  After a quick huddle, the blue team went back out on the court.  As the yellow team started dribbling down the court, our team waited.  Our daughter called out, “Put your hands up!” but it was clear that she had told her players to let the other team take some clear shots.  The yellow team shot, and missed.  Then they tried again….missed. At that moment, the yellow team’s coach leaned over and said to our daughter, “Hey, coach.  Thanks.” I felt tears well up in my eyes.

We need more of these moments.  Moments when we try to work together to make the world a little bit better. Moments when we show each other some gratitude. Thanks, coaches!

Epilogue: The yellow team eventually made two or three baskets.  The crowd went wild with each shot.  The kids all smiled.  The coaches gave each other a knowing wink.

6 thoughts on “Small Gestures Matter”

  1. Oh, I love this! I remember my dad coaching a soccer team that was clearly more skilled than their opponents. (I think it was my sister’s team but, honestly, it might have been mine. Sometimes my memory blurs.) At halftime he changed the rules: no one shoots until the team has made three clean passes. He did a similar thing when his team was losing: ice cream afterwards if they managed to pass 8 times (or some such). Even then I knew my dad was doing something good. How wonderful it must have felt to see your daughter’s sportsmanship.

  2. “We need more of these moments.” Thanks for sharing with us. And I love the epilogue. I imagine there were some pretty happy athletes that evening from each side!

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