Why I like team sports

The story of Jason McElwain’s success in the last four minutes of his first (and only) high-school varsity basketball game is amazing. I’ll leave it to you to read the story (as reported by ESPN). Also it’s definitely worth watching the video that is associated with the ESPN story. In short, Jason is an autistic boy who has been the team manager for his high school basketball team for the last four years. In the last game of his senior year, with the team up by 20 points, the coach put him in to reward him for his hard work with the team. He missed his first shot, but then proceeded to hit 6 three pointers and a two pointer, become the game’s leading scorer with 20 points and tie a school record for three pointers in a game – all in the last four minutes!

That story itself is great, but what I really liked was what Jason said when his local news station interviewed him about the game and about his newfound celebrity status at school. His main concern now is not how famous he has become (there’s supposedly talk of a movie), but he is instead focussed on the performance of the team in the upcoming playoffs.

Jason’s concern for the team epitomizes why I think team sports will always trump individual sports, and also why the individualistic nature of professional sports (even the team sports) often drives fans nuts (the NBA, for example). In their purest form, team sports are always about individual ignoring personal glory and doing whatever he can to help make the group succesful. And then, once the individual has put the team’s goals first, any personal athletic feats that are accomplished are all the more enjoyable. If you think I’m the only one who feels that way, just look at all of the students who stormed the court after Jason’s performance and lifted him onto their shoulders.

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