A little over a week ago, there was a Special Olympics Kansas regional basketball tournament in Plainville. Participating were a handful of teams from the vast northwestern part of the state, including teams from the Barton County Storm.
Special Olympics is a wonderful program. These athletes get the opportunity to travel, compete and experience what other athletes feel.
This tourney kicked off with an opening ceremony. The entertainment consisted of the cheerleading competition where the teams had the chance to do their routines.
Everyone cheered. Everyone applauded.
Every competitor left with a medal of some color (gold, silver or bronze).
Then the basketball started. Since there were so few teams taking part, every player left that high school gym with a medal.
Don’t misconstrue this. These athletes are serious competitors. They feel the thrill of victory and the sting of defeat. They want to win.
But, the Special Olympics oath reads: Let me win, but if I do not win, let me be brave in the attempt. Good advice for us all.
Fast forward a few days to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The sports world heaps a lot of pressure on these athletes, many of whom are still teenagers. The commentators make it sound as though if they don’t bring home the gold, then they are failures.
News flash: A bronze medal means the recipient was the third best in the world, the entire world.
That’s nothing to sneeze at.
The Olympics are just games, not all that different from that tournament in Plainville.
No matter how much those Special Olympians wanted to take home a gold medal, they were still excited about a silver or a bronze.
Perhaps the sporting world could learn a lesson or two from these special folks.