What will you see when you watch the news or scan your favorite online news source? Likely you’ll see story after story of illness, crime, sadness, destruction, and heartbreak. In light of all this it is easy to see sports as merely a distraction from the hard things, but sports have a unique ability to reveal good, kindness, inspiration, and encouragement.
Kevin Grow managed his high school basketball team and was beloved. His dream was to be a basketball player, but Grow has Down syndrome. In the last game of his senior year last February the coach of his Bensalem (Pa.) High School team put him in the game. The opposing team understood the gesture and stood back while Grow made a lay up. The crowd cheered, but Grow wasn’t finished. In under two minutes he nailed four three-point baskets, creating a lasting memory for him, his teammates, and the crowd of cheering fans. The Philadelphia 76ers and the Harlem Globetrotters later made him an honorary player of their teams.
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The just-completed Little League World Series is one of America’s best sporting events. It is pure sport. This year’s competition, though, topped any in recent memory for inspiring stories. Mo’ne Davis captured America’s attention by being one of only four girls ever to play in the LLWS, and not just play but dominate. Jackie Robinson West, a team of black players from Chicago’s beleaguered South Side ripped through the tournament and into the championship game. They lost to South Korea, but along the way they proved themselves winners and lifted their community.
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In the midst of all the strife and difficulty, look for the uplifting stories. They can encourage us to do good, to treat others better, and to find a bit of joy.