Note: This column is one of which I'm particularly proud. It was published in The Sentinel-News in the early 2000s, when I was editor, and is re-published in its entirety with permission.
Whether it's one's view of the basketball court or one's view of life, the key word is perspective.
As a youth league basketball referee in Simpsonville, I'm very aware of perspectives. The game looks entirely different on the floor than it does in the stands. The guys in striped shirts see things that the fans and coaches don't. At the same time, fans and coaches see things that we don't, and they are quick to point them out.
We make good calls; we make bad calls. It happens. Get over it.
But I'm not using any more ink to justify my refereeing skills. Without question, all us whistleblowers do our best.
Instead, I'll use this space to relate something that happened on the basketball court one cold Saturday morning in January. It's pure, it's simple, and it's a lesson we could all do well to remember.
It's where that life perspective thing comes in.
First, a little background. At Simpsonville Parks & Recreation Youth League, like leagues in Shelbyville and around the nation, kids are learning how to play basketball. The youngest in Simpsonville are 4, 5 and 6 years old, and the oldest players are in middle school.
At the beginning of the season, the majority of the youngest boys and girls were true novices. Most lacked the basic skills of the game.
But by mid-season, their comprehension of basketball, their motor skills and their athletic abilities are remarkably improved. They can dribble, shoot, run plays and defend the goal. For all that, credit goes to the coaches and parents.
But that's still not my point.
A few weeks ago, two players in the 10- to 12-year-old group put the game into perspective; I just wish I'd paid closer attention to know which players were involved.
Their team was down by just three points with about a minute left in the game. As I handed the ball to one of them to put it into play, his words to his teammate were priceless.
"Forget the score," he quietly said. "Let's just have fun." His teammate smiled and nodded.
I don't remember who won that game, but as the player who started the clock with his inbounds pass knows, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. Thank you coach, whoever you are.
Writer James Mulcahy
spent 35 years as a newspaper journalist at small and large papers. He is currently a freelance photographer/writer/graphics designer, and he drives a school bus.