This is true sportsmanship.
February 20, 2009 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Two high school basketball teams unite in grieving a player's recent loss. Johntel Franklin, senior basketball captain for Milwaukee Madison, lost his mother to cervical cancer on the day of a game with friendly rivals from DeKalb. In a beautiful act of sportsmanship, both teams decide to forgo points in order to help Johntel deal with his grief.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl (76 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
My favorite part is how it took the coaches and refs 5-7 minutes of arguing before a player realized he could just miss the two free-throws.
posted by smackfu at 6:53 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


ESPN has covered this remarkable story of sportsmanship as well. It is so much more inspiring to hear this type of story than the 100-0 girls hoops blowout.
posted by netbros at 6:53 AM on February 20, 2009


It was warm inside the bakery. Howard stood up from the table and took off his coat. He helped Ann from her coat. The baker looked at them for a minute and then nodded and got up from the table. He went to the oven and turned off some switches. He found cups and poured coffee from an electric coffee-maker. He put a carton of cream on the table, and a bowl of sugar.

"You probably need to eat something," the baker said. "I hope you'll eat some of my hot rolls. You have to eat and keep going. Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this," he said.

He served them warm cinnamon rolls just out of the oven, the icing still runny. He put butter on the table and knives to spread the butter. Then the baker sat down at the table with them. He waited. He waited until they each took a roll from the platter and began to eat. "It's good to eat something," he said, watching them. "There's more. Eat up. Eat all you want. There's all the rolls in the world in here."
posted by Kinbote at 6:54 AM on February 20, 2009 [31 favorites]


This is a nice thing to read after spending two days in the hospital with my three-year-old. Tanks for this post.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:55 AM on February 20, 2009


"Thanks", even.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:55 AM on February 20, 2009


No, I'm fine...just got a little something in my eye. *sniff*

That was a damn fine story.
posted by ekstasis23 at 6:59 AM on February 20, 2009


That is a very sad and sweet story. Thanks.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:00 AM on February 20, 2009


Where are all the people from that last thread calling this guy a bad sport for not playing his hardest?
posted by inigo2 at 7:01 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This is something our kids will hold for a lifetime," Rohlman said. "They may not remember our record 20 years from now, but they'll remember what happened in that gym that night."

I may too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:02 AM on February 20, 2009


I teared up also, and it certainly didn't help that I was listening to Explosions in the Sky while I read it. Yes, I'm a big Friday Night Lights fan, and this is definitely something Coach Taylor would do.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2009


With the caveat that I know nothing about basketball and therefore only barely understand the technical aspects of this story, it's surprising to me that it's considered greater sportsmanship to miss the two throws, rather than to stick to the rules and spirit of the game, welcoming in the bereaved player as a full equal, no condescending concessions made. It's not that far removed from letting someone score a goal in soccer or win at golf or something to make them feel better, is it?

Still, I guess if that's not how it was experienced by those involved, my view is not very relevant...
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2009


Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose.
posted by spilon at 7:09 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's surprising to me that it's considered greater sportsmanship to miss the two throws, rather than to stick to the rules and spirit of the game, welcoming in the bereaved player as a full equal, no condescending concessions made.

His rejoining his team, because of the rules of the game, meant they potentially would have to sacrifice points. That doesn't put him in as an equal, it puts him in as a handicap for his team. His coach was willing to do that, because he had just lost his mother.

The other team decided also to sacrifice their potential points. Doing so put him back in as an equal, rather than a handicap. It was hugely sportsmanlike to not punish another team for having a player who lost his mother just a few hours earlier.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:10 AM on February 20, 2009 [14 favorites]


it's surprising to me that it's considered greater sportsmanship to miss the two throws, rather than to stick to the rules and spirit of the game, welcoming in the bereaved player as a full equal, no condescending concessions made.

Further, the other team made Dekalb wait AN HOUR to play! That's ground for forfeit! Dekalb's reluctance to push the refs to call the game for them in their favor shows a real lack of manliness.
posted by billysumday at 7:13 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I see that I think. I suppose I just meant... surely treating people as equals means that everyone incurs the same penalty if they're not on the roster but end up playing? Of course, almost any expression of fellowship anyone makes with someone who's just lost their mother is inherently a good thing, of course.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:13 AM on February 20, 2009


(in response to Astro Zombie)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:14 AM on February 20, 2009


game warden: Justice means treating similar situations similarly. The rules are meant to keep the game just. The problem is that the rules are built for normal situations, not edge cases, and "player delayed because of dying mother" - as opposed to "because he overslept" or "because the coach is calling in a favor" - is something we tend to accept as an exceptional situation. The rules don't have a place for this, but everyone involved recognized that they should. The actions of the players were, essentially, to impose mercy on the blind, mechanical system.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:19 AM on February 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Stupid crying at work.
posted by kbanas at 7:23 AM on February 20, 2009


Whoever had the free-throw shooter on their fantasy team is probably mad.
posted by starman at 7:28 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is the opposite of that story about the coach that beat the handicapped kids 100-0. Sports aren't like business. It's not about maximizing points no matter what. (Business should also not be like business.)
posted by DU at 7:28 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a heartwarming story. But I couldn't get past the first line of this post without stopping for a moment. Who christens their kid Johntel?

Away from home on a busines trip? Need a special friend? Is your Amex burning a hole in your wallet? ... Call Johntel where luscious Linda and Busty Bella are waiting to speak to you.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:28 AM on February 20, 2009


it's surprising to me that it's considered greater sportsmanship to miss the two throws, rather than to stick to the rules and spirit of the game...

To a person that's just lost a loved one, there's nothing more comforting than strict constructionism.
posted by DU at 7:29 AM on February 20, 2009


Sports are very important.
posted by plexi at 7:33 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am someone who thought the suggestion that the team that won the 100-0 game should let their opponents score was condescending. This, however, is a very different case. In the 100-0 game, allowing the other team to score says "you're not as good as we are, we know it, and we're going to let you think you've accomplished something, when clearly we could have stopped you." Here, the message is: "This is a stupid rule, let's play basketball and forget about it." They're very different circumstances.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:37 AM on February 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Sports are very important.

Oh please, take it elsewhere. For a lot of people, yeah, they're important. For a kid who just lost his mom, yeah, it might be the only thing he's going right about then.
posted by kbanas at 7:39 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Life is very important.
posted by cavalier at 7:39 AM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: This is a stupid rule, let's play basketbal and forget about it.
posted by explosion at 7:40 AM on February 20, 2009


Where are all the people from that last thread calling this guy a bad sport for not playing his hardest?

why, i'm sure they're around - and i'm sure they'll quickly point out that having a bad team that can't play worth a damn, has no business being in the same game as a near championship team, and is going to be embarrassed whether their opponents play all out or give them the basketball equivalent of a mercy fuck is EXACTLY the same as a team whose captain suddenly lost his mother on the day of the game and is being confronted with referees trying to enforce a rule that neither team really wants affecting the game

well, maybe not
posted by pyramid termite at 7:47 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought this was a nice story. Thanks for sharing it.. I like to see little glimmers of sunshine in the world sometimes.
posted by zennoshinjou at 7:47 AM on February 20, 2009


It's a heartwarming story. But I couldn't get past the first line of this post without stopping for a moment. Who christens their kid Johntel?

Flagged as tacky.

Or, I would have, if we had such a thing.
posted by pineapple at 7:47 AM on February 20, 2009


This is the most stirring display of gallantry and sportsmanship since Mountbatten gave India back to the Punjabs. (Dead Putting Society')
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:47 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am someone who thought the suggestion that the team that won the 100-0 game should let their opponents score was condescending.

It's only condescending if you have the viewpoint that somebody who doesn't/can't get as many points at basketball without help is somehow inferior. And that viewpoint is exactly the problem here. A coach who acts like points and strict rules are the Most Important Thing Evar is not appropriate to middle school.
posted by DU at 7:51 AM on February 20, 2009


I'm not much of a sports fan, but these are the kinds of stories that make me want to pay more attention. One of nice things about having clear rules is that you occasionally have the opportunity to subvert them for the right reasons. This is one of those right reasons. Voluntarily passing on the chance to get a couple of easy points maybe isn't a such big deal on paper, but it's a sign of having the right spirit. It's good to have these concrete examples to point to and say: That--what happened right there--that is what compassion and honor look like on the basketball court. If you can see it there where the rules are clear, maybe you can learn to see it outside where things are fuzzier.

And then, everyone hits the restaurant and splits pizzas.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:58 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's only condescending if you have the viewpoint that somebody who doesn't/can't get as many points at basketball without help is somehow inferior.

Not to derail this thread, too much, but someone who can't get as many points in basketball without help IS inferior at the game of basketball.

I'm not saying that the coach for the 100 point team should have done everything possible to score as many points as possible, or that putting up the largest possible win should be his sole goal. What I did say is that I would find it condescending if he somehow "helped" the other team score. Letting the other team score is something that you do when you play with little kids, and I would find it incredibly condescending if I were on the other team.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:01 AM on February 20, 2009


Before I even clicked, I looked at my family around the breakfast table and said "Okay, guys, I'm going to read this article and cry". And did I ever!
posted by padraigin at 8:08 AM on February 20, 2009


They WERE little kids!

That said, you are setting up a false dichotomy. There are more choices than "Win 100-0" and "Let them score".
posted by DU at 8:08 AM on February 20, 2009


Man, sports stories never used to make me tear up. Now...it's like I get it, somehow. And yes, when I read this this morning, I choked up.
posted by kalimac at 8:15 AM on February 20, 2009


DU, if you'll actually read what I've written you'll notice this:

"I'm not saying that the coach for the 100 point team should have done everything possible to score as many points as possible"

He shouldn't have, trying to score 100 points, was stupid and crass and poor sportsmanship. What he should have done was kept playing the game, but focused on things that weren't scoring. I haven't set up a false dichotomy, because I never said that he should have tried to win 100-0.

Also, I assume you're joking when you say that they are little kids, but just to be clear: You let little kids(say under 12) score when they're playing with adults. That's because adults are better than little kids, and no one's pretending otherwise. Once you get past that point, however, you should treat other people as equals, and part of that entails not treating them like you believe the relationship between them and yourself is analogous to the relationship between adults and little children. That's disrespectful.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:19 AM on February 20, 2009


See, this is exactly the kind of story that would be the big lesson at the end of a "Sports Night" episode. And that's why I hate watching damn "Sports Night" and it making me cry. Stupid human emotions.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 8:25 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The post makes it seem like the teams did not count points during the entire game. They just purposely missed two technical free throws. Still cool, but different.
posted by xmutex at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2009


But I couldn't get past the first line of this post without stopping for a moment. Who christens their kid Johntel?

People from a differnt cultural background than yourself?
posted by Bookhouse at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


"different", that is.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:34 AM on February 20, 2009


Its too bad we have to look to high school for leaders in the world of sports.
posted by wayofthedodo at 8:37 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holy moley, are we talking about that 100-0 game in here? Thanks for pooping in this thread.
posted by jabberjaw at 8:50 AM on February 20, 2009


This is the opposite of that story about the coach that beat the handicapped kids 100-0.

Other aspects of that story aside, the kids in that story were not handicapped.
posted by mikepop at 8:50 AM on February 20, 2009


Cornel West has said, "justice is what love looks like in public." This story gives another view of what love can look like in public. Though the system is dumb to the lives of the players, the players can make it show compassion.
posted by mistersquid at 8:56 AM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Bookhouse: A different culture? Probably, but we're all anglophone speakers, and it's still a pretty unusual name.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:59 AM on February 20, 2009


This is a very touching story, I'm glad these people are good people and took care of each other.
Also this story is not the opposite of the 100-0 story. In one you have two teams people playing each other and the better team beat the other team. It was a tragedy of scheduling if anything.
In this case you had a team miss two points of penalty shots awarded for a technical foul, for a guy who was late into the game because his mother died that morning. It would be pretty shitty to try and take a two point advantage for that when you know the situation and you can throw the points away. However I totally agree with the ref that made them take the shots. Also it doesn't say anything about them not playing their best for the rest of the game. If they gave it anything less than their best against Franklin it would be a little insulting to his request to want to play.
posted by MrBobaFett at 9:00 AM on February 20, 2009


Is someone peeling onions in here? Because I'm crying a little and it must be onions.
posted by rtha at 9:03 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who names their kids Ari? Or Yuri? Or Guiseppe? Or Liam? We're all English speakers here!
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:06 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Before I even clicked, I looked at my family around the breakfast table and said "Okay, guys, I'm going to read this article and cry". And did I ever!

You browse Metafilter while having breakfast with your family? I'm not sure if I'm scared, impressed, or vaguely saddened.
posted by Shepherd at 9:11 AM on February 20, 2009


If they gave it anything less than their best against Franklin it would be a little insulting to his request to want to play.

Yeah I think this is different from not guarding the guy who just lost his mom and letting him score cause you feel bad for him. That would be pity. That is not what this is. The coach of the team that he played for played him, despite the fact that he would have to take a two-shot penalty for doing so. The other team refused to take advantage of that penalty. This is not "let people win cause you feel bad for them" this is "doing what is right is more important than doing what is expedient" and "you don't have to press every possible advantage against an opponent." This is not pity. This is kindness. This is mercy. [this is good]
posted by ND¢ at 9:12 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


You browse Metafilter while having breakfast with your family? I'm not sure if I'm scared, impressed, or vaguely saddened.

We don't get newspapers anymore but I still like to catch up on the news over coffee just like June Cleaver would have done. Plus or minus the pearls.
posted by padraigin at 9:18 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


A different culture? Probably, but we're all anglophone speakers, and it's still a pretty unusual name.

I just have to point out the irony that this comes from an entity named "muffinman" in a thread with zombies, squids, and four-eyed humanoids.
posted by mistersquid at 9:30 AM on February 20, 2009


If any place should have "unusual names," it's America. Not only is our country a "melting pot," a place where different cultures can mix and produce new and wonderful offshoots, but our primary language is English, a wonderful mutt of a language that happily accepts any and all foreign words ever to grace our tongues. English has the largest vocabulary of any language on Earth, and constantly grows and accepts words fluidly, whether they be slang ("ginormous!") or merely foreign.

It shouldn't be "What kind of a name is Johntel?" but "What a name! Johntel!"

On the other hand, my lawn, you can get off it now.
posted by explosion at 9:42 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Complete disregard for the gambling community. Simply appalling this is.
posted by kigpig at 10:32 AM on February 20, 2009


You'll see this happen all the time in sports actually. I think stop-at-nothing cutthroat competitiveness is the exception rather than the rule most of the time, but then I love sports, even if I rarely watch them, so I am biased.

I love how in soccer when a guy gets hurt on squad A and squad B gets the ball squad B will lob a pass back to the defenders of A once he's off the field. It seems obvious, but having done it in a game when I've been elbowing and shinracking a forward for an hour before he gets hurt, only to return the ball because its simply the right thing to do--it taught me something important about competition as a youth. Bend the rules to win, but bend them for fairness as well. I play a lot of pickup basketball, and I see both sides of this all the time: at game point if you get anywhere near a dude shooting he's going to try to draw a foul and call it himself. But if he sees something, like the ball going off his team-member's foot, he's going to speak up, grudgingly but right away. The spirit of the game is real, and it "does not toss itself about in the external play of chance occurrences; on the contrary, it is that which determines [the game] absolutely, and it stands firm against the chance occurrences which it dominates and exploits for its own purpose." Sport "is thus the unfolding of Spirit in time, as nature is the unfolding of the Idea in space." And it formulates itself in rice paddies, ghettos and potato fields as well as its murderous brothers of war and oppression and it's a lot more fun to watch with nachos.

I wish I could think of some other common examples of this: giving up an unfair or awkwardly inappropriate situation that results in a minor advantage. I know they're out there.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:45 AM on February 20, 2009


I would have found this story a lot more heartwarming if I hadn't had $500 on DeKalb +14.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:36 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Its too bad we have to look to high school for leaders in the world of sports

It's kind of great that we can look to high school for leaders in the world of sports.
posted by Ms. Saint at 12:09 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


You'll see this happen all the time in sports actually. I think stop-at-nothing cutthroat competitiveness is the exception rather than the rule most of the time

Yes, this. We had compulsory sport at my high school, and I'm convinced that a large part of the reason was precisely to teach sportsmanship.

In fact, if you'd laid out the premise for me ("guys mother dies, other team gets technical penalty of two free throws because of his inclusion in the team") then the only possible acceptable conclusion would've been for the team to miss the throws. You'd have to be the greatest wanker on earth to try in earnest for those shots.

But maybe it says something about a streak of win-at-all-costs dickheadedness in American culture that this kind of stock-standard example of sportsmanship is even remarked upon, as if it's somehow alien to the spirit of sport. It's absolutely central, and if people think that sport is only about winning and losing, then they've completely missed the point.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:20 PM on February 20, 2009


"win-at-all-costs dickheadedness in American culture"

While I won't argue that America has its share of bad sports, I really think bad sportsmanship from players and fans is FAR from an American culture thing...or a new thing:

Soccer-Atletico receive death threats ahead of Marseille game
Sydney Riot of 1879
Sumo wrestler Asashoryu receives death threat
India hits out at Aussie sportsmanship

I'm pretty sure this is a Wide World of Sports thing...

spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport… the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition…

Sorry, television childhood flashback. I'm done now
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:53 PM on February 20, 2009


Sydney Riot of 1879?!??

The riot was sparked by a controversial umpiring decision, when star Australian batsman Billy Murdoch was given out by George Coulthard.

Cricket riots! Sparked by controversial umpiring decisions! We need more of this kind of thing!

"Hm, not out. I think I heard a snick there, probably a bat-pad. Benefit of doubt goes to the batsman"

crowd: *lights torches, brandishes pitchforks, lynches Englishmen*
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:05 PM on February 20, 2009


Who christens their kid Johntel?

The same kind of people who call their kids Lakeisha or Tremayne?
posted by sour cream at 1:25 PM on February 20, 2009


Bravo.
posted by robcorr at 1:39 PM on February 20, 2009


What kind of a name is Johntel

Go watch Splash. Seriously, go do it. One of the running gags is how strange and loopy the name "Madison" is. Madison In just 15 years Madison went from virtual nil to #3 most popular name in America.

It's too bad Splash wasn't a Blaxplotation flick. I fucking HATE the name Madison.
posted by absalom at 1:56 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Madison is a pretty cool kind of bike race to watch, though, even if nobody on the entire planet understands the rules. Who needs to, when one guy grabs the other by the hand and slings him forward at phenomenal speeds, and people crash all over the place...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:27 PM on February 20, 2009


I wish I could think of some other common examples of this: giving up an unfair or awkwardly inappropriate situation that results in a minor advantage. I know they're out there.

This got a lot of attention last year.

"In the second game of a doubleheader, [Western Oregon]'s Sara Tucholsky slammed what appeared to be a three-run homer over the centerfield fence, the senior's first in either high school or college. But Tucholsky wrenched her knee at first base and collapsed.

Umpires ruled that a pinch-runner could replace Tucholsky, but she would be credited with a single and only two runs would count. After being assured there was no rule against it, Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace carried Tucholsky around the bases, completing her homer and adding a run to a 4-2 loss that eliminated the Wildcats from postseason."
posted by stargell at 2:39 PM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Guys? Stop talking about the girls' game already. You're ruining our moment here. Thanks.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:46 PM on February 20, 2009


"Guys? Stop talking about the girls' game already. You're ruining our moment here. Thanks."

What, you mean soccer?

I kid, I kid!
posted by klangklangston at 3:17 PM on February 20, 2009


She wrecked her knee on a home run trot?! Somebody call Bill Gramatica. (I kid, I'm sure she was running it out. I hope.)
posted by lost_cause at 4:14 PM on February 20, 2009


That softball story was discussed here last year.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:27 PM on February 20, 2009


I believe in the 100-to-0 game, the losing team were handicapped. As in, literally handicapped. Their coach had them playing real games not to win, but to experience playing and sportsmanship. They did not get to play in the 100-to-0 game (their opponents having the ball almost the entire time) and they certainly did not experience sportsmanship.

The unsportsman dominating team's coach was fired, IIRC.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:18 PM on February 20, 2009


sour cream said: "'Who christens their kid Johntel?' ...The same kind of people who call their kids Lakeisha or Tremayne?"

What kind of people is that?
posted by pineapple at 9:54 AM on February 21, 2009


What kind of people is that?

the parents of wicked stepmothers

lakeisha would fit right in with drizella - and if you give him an appropriate honorific, lord johntelle sounds just peachy

if he ended up having triplets with cinderella, my suggestion for names would be bibbidy tremaine-johntelle, bobbidy tremaine-johntelle, and boo tremaine-johntelle

works for me
posted by pyramid termite at 12:51 PM on February 21, 2009


I believe in the 100-to-0 game, the losing team were handicapped. As in, literally handicapped

As discussed in this thread, this is not the case at all.

Clearly, these kids are neither physically nor mentally handicapped. These are normal kids with learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADD. I'm sure they would not be happy to know they were being called "retards" or "handicapped."
posted by mikepop at 7:04 AM on February 23, 2009


I saw this somewhere, the other day, and had to forward it on to my Dad. We are both big fans of this type of story - where kids do the right thing, and not get too caught up in the adult concept of "win at any cost".

stargell - Thanks! I forgot about that story.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:41 AM on February 23, 2009


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