By DARRIN SMITH
I never imagined I would be pulling for a team from Chicago but; Go Loyola Chicago Go!! I am so loving the Cinderella story this year of that little old #11 seed team making noise against all the “Big Boys”. I think the Loyola Chicago boys are playing larger than life, in part, for Sister Jean, their 98-year-old team chaplain and biggest fan. It is such a warming feeling watching those young men when they step off the court and go out of their way to hug the wheelchair bound nun with tears in their eyes.
I think every team plays harder when they know they have fans that are dedicated to them as much as they are the game. It is a heartwarming feeling to know someone has your back and that they will always be in your corner cheering their hearts out for you. I hope every one of our kids has that feeling from us. I want them to know they are loved and are never alone just like Loyola does from Sister Jean. Whether they have a great and loving home or not, whether they are rich or poor, whether they are black, white, red, yellow or anything in between, they are our kids and we should go out of our way to show them the support that makes a difference.
That kind of spirit and comradery is why I love sports so much. It brings kids to the forefront of the community and gives us, the fans, a chance to shower them with support. It gives us all a chance to witness greatness, suffer the agony of defeat together, and share every emotion in between. It brings together our community and helps us feel more like we are family.
I wish that the feelings we show our athletes could transfer to all the students, but I think we sometimes fall short, just like everywhere else, in that regard. We probably don’t celebrate the hundreds of non-sports-related victories our local kids have every year enough, but we should. In my position at the paper, I get to know the athletes as well as other students and see firsthand how awesome they are. I wish I could know more of them better, but the ones I do know, have all impressed me very much. As I have said many times, I believe our schools are producing some fantastic kids and I commend them for the job they are doing.
Being a cup is half full person, like I am, it is easy for me to praise our kids. I always try to look on the bright side and I hope that transfers into the way I cover our kids. I joke a lot about how I hate to write a story about one of the teams losing. It isn’t fun for me to write it, just like it isn’t fun for them to lose it. Writing about a game winning pass, or spike, or home run, or goal, or serve is so much more pleasant than saying something like ‘our team lost because of the mercy rule or missed tackle, etc.
Blood is thicker than water is a saying I have heard all my life. It is usually true that folks defend their families much more than strangers. That is the reason I wish we could all accept each other as a big extended family and love each other accordingly. We should celebrate every local owned business and support them because they are family. We should pack the stands at every home game in every sport, fill every auditorium to the rafters in every pageant, spelling bee, band performance, and we should be going out of our way to highlight our academic achievers, high test score students, and every other type of winner we have because we are family.
When our kids graduate, I hope they feel the family vibe here. If they don’t, we need to work on that as a community. If you’re not involved in our schools, I highly recommend you give it a try. We as a community can be a strong family if more of us band together to do all we can to teach our younger generations what that feels like. It will only make us stronger for future generations.
It’s just a thought but one worth thinking.
By DARRIN SMITH