A sporting chance

When I was in seventh grade, I was a “rotator” on the girls’ basketball team. This meant that I wasn’t good enough to be on the actual team, so I only got to play in one or two games of the season. (As an aside: I didn’t care. I didn’t like basketball; in fact I hated sports of all kinds. But in my school, girls like me – by which I mean white and middle-class – played basketball, and ran track, while girls not like me – by which I mean what you think I mean – were just in “P.E.” And yes, it would be fascinating to delve deeper into why that was so.)

Anyway, at my first “real” game, we changed in the locker room (out of our dress pants – for some reason we weren’t allowed to wear jeans on “game day”) and gathered for a pep talk from the coach, and then we formed a prayer circle – twelve or so twelve-year-old girls, sitting on the floor, holding hands, handing over the fate of our upcoming competition to the Lord. “Please God, let us win today,” the first girl prayed. The next one: “Please God, let us win and let me score some baskets.” I started to feel funny about all this. A few more girls prayed in the same vein, and then it was my turn. I said: “Please God, help us be good sports whether we win or lose.” There was an awkward pause. Then the next girl prayed: “Please God, let us beat the other team.”

We lost. I’m sure the other girls secretly blamed me.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to play sports in high school – I was in the band instead. We marched at every football game, and when I was a senior, I was invited to give the opening prayer at one of the games. I went up to the press box and asked God to protect the players and to help everyone get home safely. Then I said: “And please help us to remember that sportsmanship and honor are far more important than a victory.” There was a collective gasp from the coaches and managers in the press box around me. I said: “Amen!” and returned to my spot in the trumpet section.

We lost that game as well.

I guess the moral of this story is that even God knows that, when it comes to school sports and Texans, winning IS the most important thing.


aimee said...

You cracked me up. You were probably the reason why, when I was in jr. high playing basketball bc I was a girl like you, we only said The Lord's Prayer and that was all. Haha.

Maybe God was trying to prove that you were right. ;)

Anonymous said...



H Noble said...

Good for you, b/c that is how we should pray!

Chris said...

No, I think that the real moral of this story is that your prayers are a jinx. ;-P

Karen said...

I know that now there are no public prayers before a game. I don't know about in the dressing room.

I never thought that it was right to pray to win because you are also praying for the other team to lose.