Before my boys suited up for their lacrosse game against Peters Township, the eighth grade team was attempting to finish theirs. By the fourth quarter, the opposing coach in this eighth grade game had yelled, screamed, cussed and nearly physically attacked anyone within striking range (this included his players physically retraining him from getting at the on-duty EMT). Our coach informed the referee that our team would no longer continue the game under these circumstances. When told of this, the opposing coach launched into yet another tirade. Perhaps it was too late, but the referee called the game, awarding the win via forfeit to our eighth graders.
One of the great things about youth sports is that after every game the kids line up and shake hands. After this game, the out of control coach was yelling at his kids to NOT shake hands. It was disgusting. More so, it was embarrassing for his players who were shedding their gear in disgust as our kids waited on the sideline for the handshake.
Then, it wasn’t.
In spite of the overbearing asshole of a coach, the kids once again showed that at times they have a far greater grasp of respect and dignity than adults. A few of the boys rallied their humiliated teammates, had everyone line up and walk over and shake hands. They did this in spite of their coach and their embarrassment. They took off their right glove, put their goalie in front as is tradition and walked tall. They shook everyone’s hand.
Was the coach disgraceful? Yes. Were the kids inspiring? Absolutely.
I think these kids learned a valuable lesson; and maybe reminded us of one too easily forgotten. Things go awry sometimes and maybe through no fault of our own we get caught up in someone else’s bullshit. But none of that should absolve us from taking off our glove and shaking hands.