The Common Good

'In Our Hearts, We Won Them All'

Photo: Young team, © YanLev / Shutterstock.com
Photo: Young team, © YanLev / Shutterstock.com

I attended a basketball banquet and a girls team gathered together on the stage. Their coach gave a small speech before she introduced each player.  "We didn't win any games this season," she lamented, "but in our hearts we won them all." Wow! What a quote! "In our hearts we won them all." I'll always remember it and hold it in my heart. 

Not long after that banquet, I heard a story on National Public Radio about a high school girls basketball team in Texas that lost a game 100-0. I found an article about the game written by Barry Horn for the Dallas Morning News. Horn wrote, "Later on the 100-0 night, Civello [the losing coach] told his girls the life lesson they could take from their loss: 'I told them someday they will be on top in a similar situation and they should remember how they felt when some people were cheering for a team to score a hundred points and shut us out. Hopefully, my girls all learned a lesson in sportsmanship that will last a lifetime.'" 

In her wonderful book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg made this observation about becoming a team, a family. 

Something happened at precisely that moment. Both Claudia and Jamie tried to explain to me about it, but they couldn't quite. I know what happened but I never told them. Having words and explanations for everything is too modern ...

What happened was: they became a team, a family of two. There had been times before they ran away when they had acted like a team, but those were very different from feeling like a team. Becoming a team didn't mean the end of their arguments. But it did mean that the arguments became a part of the adventure, became discussions not threats. To an outsider the arguments would appear to be the same because feeling like part of a team is something that happens invisibly. You might call it caring. You could even call it love. And it is very rarely, indeed, that it happens to two people at the same time - especially a brother and a sister who had always spent more time with activities than they had with each other.

There are winners and losers in all parts of our world —the social parts, the economic parts, the political parts, the religious parts —all parts. I'm hoping and working for a time when we become a team/family/community, when we can cheer for cooperation over conquest, when we can 'give under' instead of 'take over', and when we can say, "In our hearts and in our life together we won them all." 

Trevor Scott Barton is an elementary school teacher in Greenville, S.C. He is a blogger for the Teaching Tolerance project of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Photo: Young team, © YanLev | View Portfolio / Shutterstock.com

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