TITLE: The Unnecessary Buzzer Beater
By TJ Nickel
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Sports have a way of providing momentary bliss. Bliss, because ignorance often blinds the victor to the aching of the defeated. This ignorance is something parents and coaches work to alleviate from their athletes as they mature in the art of sportsmanship. In the seventh grade, the maturation process hasn’t quite come to fruition. When I was in the seventh grade, I experienced “the thrill of victory” shortly after receiving “the agony of defeat.”
Basketball was my life when I was in middle school. Daily, I played in driveways with my two best friends and others in the neighborhood. Tryouts would determine the A-, B-, and C- Teams. I was sure I would start on the A-Team because I made the fifth through seventh grade squad when I was in the fourth grade (in a different district), and had played on driveways and school blacktops with most of my competition.
My ego needed to be resuscitated when I discovered I made the ‘B Team’ and my two friends made the ‘A Team’. In the two weeks leading up to our first game, I worked hard to prove my coaches wrong. During that time I also had the opportunity to meet other classmates. These classmates and teammates embraced and encouraged me; something that competition seemed to discourage on the A-Team. I was still quite upset about where I had been placed in regards to talent, but quite happy with my fellow teammates.
The evening of the first game arrived, and I found myself warming up in West Middle School’s gymnasium. Nearly twenty-four minutes later (four, six minute quarters), West was losing the game 2-49. My teammates and I were having the times of our lives. I had forgotten all about the other squad, my problems, and any part of the universe other than this basketball court. With only a few seconds remaining on the clock, I received the outlet pass and dribbled to half court where I heaved a shot at the crooked rim hanging at the far end of the gym. The sound of the buzzer seemed to be drowned out by the swishing of the net.
My teammates quickly surrounded me, picked me up onto their shoulders, and carried me off the floor. In all the commotion, everything moved in slow motion and I heard only a ringing. My smile must have swallowed my ears! We had won the game by 50 points. I had a terrific game and scored 23 points. I can no longer recall any of the other 20, but the last three still come up in conversations with the friends I made at this time in my life.
This event is significant in my life because it reminds me of the rewards in athletic achievement, teamwork, and commitment. The joy of playing sports always drove me to perform at my best. I learned how to be part of a team at that age, coordinating my commitment to excel personally with the prosperity and attitude of my peers. This lesson in life is something invaluable. While the moment of glory is something that has passed, and is something I would never repeat in my currently mature understanding of sportsmanship, it is something that will always bring a smile to my aged face. I only wish I could, in a state of maturity, still swallow my ears.
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