21 March 2014

This kid gets it

Amidst all the exaltation and heartbreak of basketball's "March madness," it's easy to lose sight of the purpose of high school athletics.  Chip Scoggins offers this story from the Minnesota state basketball tournament:
One by one, members of the Hopkins boys’ basketball team stepped forward to receive their second-place medals Saturday night at Target Center. Their mood reflected the manner in which they lost the big-school state championship game.

The top-seeded Royals had the title within their grasp, only to see it disappear as Lakeville North, behind a remarkable performance by senior sharpshooter JP Macura, snatched it away in the final minute. That game represented high school sports at their best.

But then came the awards ceremony and the reaction of the Hopkins players. Specifically, a few players removed their medals almost immediately after having them placed over their heads by a state high school league official.

It wasn’t a good look, a high school athlete removing a state tournament medal in disgust. It created an unflattering impression that the perennial basketball power is too good for second place, which, predictably, made social media light up like Times Square because it involved Hopkins.

But then the TV cameras found Hopkins student manager Grant Petersen, a senior born with Down syndrome who reacted as if his team had just won the state championship, the Super Bowl and the Powerball when he heard his name announced.

Grant jumped up and down, both arms raised. Upon receiving his medal, he raised his arms again and flashed two thumbs up to his parents, sister and relatives sitting in the stands.

It was a beautiful moment, a kid overjoyed to get a medal in a sport he loves. Unwittingly, Grant showed all of us what grace and sportsmanship look like.
The rest of the story, and details about young Mr. Peterson, are at the StarTribune

Posted for World Down Syndrome Day.  See also the "Dear Future Mom" video at Neatorama.

Photo credit: Jarrin Williams, Special to the Star Tribune

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