WHAT MAKES A SPARTAN?
by Elaine Doll-Dunn

Six feet from heroism; two yards from immortality, a heartbeat from greatness. He lay on the ragged turf, tears mingling with sweat, felled after a spectacular run launched in the final second of an historic game. Two teams with zero seasons; his school holding the dubious distinction of a record 76 losses; it could have been so great…

From the ecstatic ranks of the rightfully jubilant winning team, one Spartan slowed, dropped to his knee, and laying a hand on the fallen opponent’s shoulder, leaned to speak. It wasn’t long, it wasn’t obvious, it wasn’t for show, it was the spontaneous reaction of one athlete to another… it was human
I can’t know what was said, I don’t need to. The body language spoke for all of us. “Well done, fellow warrior, well done.”

It was a fantastic game; they are all our kids, whatever the color of the uniform or the emblem on the helmet. They played with heart, they played with soul, and they played to win.
This ‘time-out’ was a salute to the real victory; the quiet recognition of Herculean effort.
What a few of us witnessed was a supreme act of sportsmanship, the epitome of human caring. Thank you, Mark Jacobs---you represented your team, your town, your parents, as only a true athlete can. That reflex action to an emotional situation defines the inherent strength of spirit and depth of character that defines our kids.

Children are an extension of ourselves, and, like it or not, we live through them. A community is revealed in their behaviors and responses; they are our pride, our hope and our future. Assessing emotions at a game is really visiting the guts of a community. Those children under the lights become the stand-ins for the rest of us who are now relegated to the bench and continue our competitions via the next generation. It’s as it should be, and a joy to experience…the greatness lies in celebrating not so much the numbers on the scoreboard as the tenacity and instincts of those responsible for those numbers. There were many heroes that night, those who gave it their all, made clear a path for the messengers, and supported the team whatever their mission. It’s well to remember that a team sport was orchestrated and a virtuoso performance played…with a respectful tribute as the final coda.

Go Spartans, the world is your playing field. As you are all winners; so are we.


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