It’s basketball season in Nebraska, and fans can catch several high school games a week if they choose. I spend a few hours a week in the gym watching my daughter’s Sioux County team, of course, but that also means watching the Sioux County boys give it their best effort.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Sioux County has just eight boys in high school this year. Yes, you read that right, 8.
Seven of them are out for basketball, but pre-season injuries took two of them out before the season’s games began. Since you need five players on the court to start the game, that leaves the Warriors with just enough manpower on the bench to field a team. Those five have to play every minute of every game. They haven’t found success on the scoreboard yet this season, but they keep working hard.
That’s admirable, and I commend those boys, but what I really want to talk about is Arthur County’s approach to its game in Harrison Saturday (Dec. 16). In the middle of the third quarter, Sioux County’s Tristan Hunter collided with an Arthur County player, sending him sprawling to the floor with a knee injury.
Sioux County was forced to finish the game with four players. Arthur County’s coach, his team already well in the lead, did the classy thing and directed one of his five to basically stand at half court and not play, essentially making the rest of the contest a four-on-four effort. I saw Crawford do something similar last season when they took a large lead over a struggling Banner County team.
After the game was over, Sioux County fans stepped out of the stands to thank the Arthur County coaches for the consideration. In the hallway later, I overheard Arthur’s coach Blaine Cullinan chat with Sioux County coach Lane Grote about sportsmanship and the value of modeling sportsmanship to the young men he’s coaching.
Famous Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne once said, “Win or lose, do it fairly.”
Cullinan’s actions epitomize those words. There are plenty of coaches out there – not to mention fans – who would have taken advantage of the situation to encourage players to run up the score. In the frenzy of a game, we often forget that these are high school kids out there, who are learning every day from the example we set with our behavior.
We would all do well to follow Cullinan’s example, not just on the court, but in life.
Thanks for the classy move, coach, it was appreciated by all.