Giving Hope or Teaching Reality
An article in today’s local paper caught my attention because it quoted Que Tucker, the commissioner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association, “The easiest thing in the world would be to simply say the championship season in basketball is over…being a former basketball coach, and knowing how important bringing closure to you season is for everyone, especially seniors, we made the decision that we want to continue, as they say, to keep hope alive. But we understand we’re at the mercy of the virus.”
Our state public schools are closed until at least May 18, so at best the championship basketball games would be held sometime in early June. As a past teacher, coach, and administrator, I appreciate the desire for a championship game. To play and see who wins-what team is the champion. I have great empathy for that loss, and all the other lost rites of a student’s school year, especially for seniors. Tucker states her case well and while I understand her reasoning, I strongly disagree with what she is teaching the basketball teams that are locked in the semifinals of a state basketball tournament.
I think Tucker is missing a great teachable moment. Instead of keeping hope alive , she should teach reality. While hope in any situation is admirable, sometimes it is a wasted energy that hampers real progress. While all of us, as she said, are “at the mercy of the virus,” it seems to me to be wrong to think that the sixteen teams who are still alive in the lost tournament could regroup and play in a worthwhile fashion. To ask seniors and other players to hold on to a false hope of a championship game misses the great opportunity to teach that sometimes in life events beyond our control happen and all we can do is the best that we can under the given circumstances.
The educational system in our country has suffered because of the COVID-19 virus. It has interrupted the year for all students and teachers. However, it has been especially costly for seniors who have likely lost their prom and graduation and spring sports’ season and some state championship games. It is now up to administrators and teachers and coaches to use this virus as a teaching moment that offers many lessons.
One such lesson that we all can learn from the interruption of the virus comes from a letter written by John Keats in 1817. The poet, who would die an early death from TB, writes:
“The first thing that strikes me on hearing a Misfortune having befallen another is this. Well it cannot be helped-he will have the pleasure of trying the resources of his spirit.”
Tucker, coaches, players, all of us are in the midst of a horrific misfortune, but let us all come together, be realistic, and find the resources of our spirits.l