Life | Sojourners


It's really the way life should be. Everybody gets to play -- and everybody has fun. I was watching my young niece, Kaitlyn, play basketball near Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a Saturday morning, and the stands were packed with fans of a variety of ages and races. Proud parents, sisters, and brothers cheered on the young players. The excitement rivaled any championship game of the NCAA "Final Four."

And it wasn't even scary -- even if you were out there playing basketball for the first time. If your shoe came untied and you didn't know how to tie yet, you could go to your mother and have her do it. And if another girl's elbow accidentally landed in your face, you could go sit with Mom in the stands for the rest of the game.

The referee was always willing to help out if you got confused. The free-throw line had been moved up a couple of feet to give little arms a fighting chance to fling the ball through the hoop. Everybody got a fair shot.

And, even if you threw the ball into the hands of the other team six times in a row, you still got to keep playing. Even if you went tearing down the court and went right to the same corner and got the ball tied up by the other team 11 times in five minutes, still you got to stay in. Although you would be gently reminded by the coach to try to share a little more.

Each team had the entire backcourt to themselves without the other players around defending (until those last vital couple of minutes at the end of the game); so even slower teams had a chance to get the ball to their side -- unless, of course, you threw it right into the hands of the other team. Six times.

But, you see, nobody cared. The little girl with the perfect aim at the other team kept getting the ball passed to her anyway -- because, you see, she could dribble. There were many gifts, but only one spirit: Fun.

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Sojourners Magazine May 1993
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