“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
The inspiring quote above is the motto for Special Olympics, a sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. You can learn more about this wonderful program here.
Yesterday I was blessed to attend the Take It to the Hoops Basketball Tourney at Taylor University in Indiana. My son actively participates in Special Olympics, so throughout the years I have attended many basketball games, track meets, and bowling competitions. Throughout all of these events, one thing remains constant: the athletes’ efforts toward fulfilling the Special Olympics motto.
Attending a Special Olympics event is like stepping into another world. It is a world where the athletes compete to win, of course, but they do so with the mindset that everyone is doing their best and that is what counts. They look for ways to encourage their fellow teammates and their opponents. They help each other up when they fall and make sure that they are truly okay. When someone gets caught up in the moment and accidentally gets too rough, etc., they are quick to seek out the victim and apologize. Yesterday, I watched as an athlete got a little rough trying to get the basketball. He knocked the other player down. The referee called a foul. The athlete helped the other player up, genuinely apologized, and then gave him a quick handshake and a hug before returning to his position so the game could start again. There were no ill feelings. Everyone realizes that no one is perfect. It is the spirit and effort that you bring to the game. When the game is over, they cheer for each other and celebrate what they have accomplished. The folks in the bleachers keep it under control, too. We cheer and coach from our perches, but there are no angry words, threats, or actions. I believe that the spirit of positive sportsmanship that permeates each event affects each and every person who attends.
I leave each event feeling lucky to know these athletes, their caregivers, and their wonderful coaches. I am grateful to be invited to step into their world and see life through a different perspective. It has made me a better person.