We often dismiss sports as little more than a distraction, which is normally accurate, but from time to time can be a severe underestimation. This is certainly the case with the story of Mitchell Marcus, the team manager of the Coronado High School Thunderbirds basketball team from El Paso, Texas. Marcus, who suffers from a developmental disorder, was given the opportunity by his team’s coach to dress for the last game of the regular season.
It was an honor just to be in uniform for the high school student who grew up loving basketball, but with a minute left, as part of his coach’s plan, he was surprised to be put into the actual game as a player. His team used multiple attempts to set him up for a basket, but each time he had difficulty receiving the pass or else he missed on his shot completely. With time winding down, Coronado used its last possession to once again set Marcus up, but the pass went out of bounds.
On the resulting inbound pass, Jonathon Montanez, from the rival basketball team at Franklin High School, got Marcus’s attention and passed the ball right to him, giving him one more chance at a basket. He hit his shot and the high school gymnasium erupted in applause, carrying Marcus off the court.
Montanez’s actions – the ultimate show of sportsmanship – contributed to making sports meaningful by understanding the relative unimportance of the score in comparison to a dream, and using the game as a means of facilitating that dream coming true. No, that’s not dust in your eye.