As parents of a senior we, Mrs ERJ and I, get tapped to be volunteers at home meets.
Yesterday we worked the measuring chain for the women throwers.
I had a nice chat with the coach from the opposing team while the women warmed up. He advised me to get closer to the pit for his first few throwers so I could accurately spot their throws.
Somewhat later I had conversation with one of the mothers from the visiting team. She clued me in.
Two of their throwers are "special needs" kids. Nope. This is not Special Olympics. This is garden variety prep sports.
I was very proud of our team. Every woman on the other team was treated as a worthy competitor, even after they demonstrated they were only capable of throws a fraction the distance of the women at the head of the pack.
I am also very impressed with the Fowlerville coaching staff. It is pretty cool that they welcomed these young ladies on the team. Young women athletes are exquisitely sensitive to the vibe....they know when they are welcomed and they know when they are merely 'tolerated".
We live in an era when every kid can be a superstar or be imbued with supernatural powers. All they need is an X-box, PlayStation or a WII. There is no need to "put it out there" in public. There is no need to exercise. There is no need to develop the discipline of practice. There is no risk. Those kids go into a state of suspended animation. They cease to grow.
Participation is rare and, therefore, shall be celebrated and honored. Even when, perhaps especially when, the participant is handicapped. At least on this blog.
Does it count?
I had a conversation with Dr. De France, the Eaton Rapids School Superintendent. He loves sports. He is a certified referee/official in several sports. He told me that kids who are not academically eligible can participate in sporting events provided their contribution can be kept out of the results. For example, a non-eligible athlete can knock golf balls, participate in track and field events (except for relays), tennis, etc. Obviously they could not participate on football, soccer or baseball teams.
And the athlete does not need to know.