Here's a story
November 11, 2002 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Here's a story that's been circulating the sports talk circuit but transcends to normal walks of life, and might brighten up your day.
posted by dig_duggler (20 comments total)
I couldn't find this in any other threads or searches, so hopefully it's not a double-post.
posted by dig_duggler at 3:47 PM on November 11, 2002

Saw it on SportsCenter last night. Very moving. A well written piece that tells more than the few minutes on ESPN could.
Thanks, dig.
posted by geekyguy at 4:02 PM on November 11, 2002

It's an effing travesty and say that he scored a touchdown...much the same way that a UCONN women's basketball player, with a season-ending injury, was allowed to score an uncontested layup during a game in order to break a record.

I appreciate all the Rudy-like sentiment of a kid who has physical limitations but tries his darndest and is an inspiration to the team and all...but scoring an uncontested touchdown in garbage time of a blowout game...requiring directional help from his teammates ('run that way, Forrest')...doesn't warm my heart.
posted by msacheson at 4:31 PM on November 11, 2002

As the father of a handicapped child, it warms my heart.
posted by MaddCutty at 4:38 PM on November 11, 2002

I see the appeal, but agree with msacheson that our culture places too much emphasis on symbolism.
posted by gsteff at 4:50 PM on November 11, 2002

The fact this community cared about this kid warms my heart.
posted by konolia at 4:51 PM on November 11, 2002

Super-neat. The fact that a story like this is news reminds me why I love Ohio.

msacheson: I don't think anyone's saying that this is an incredible athletic triumph over adversity, although it seems like it required an ususual amount of training and preparation. I think the real story is that everyone around Jake gave enough of a crap to make this happen, together. That's pretty cool.
posted by todds at 4:56 PM on November 11, 2002

eh. i saw this on ESPN last night too, and felt quite unsure of what to think about it (rare for me). (it's completely different than the Nykesha Sales incident, imho).

at first, after watching Jake almost kneel down twice, stop, start, stop, start, then almost stop again on the 5-yard line, i agreed (mostly) with msacheson. i mean, it's great for the kid and the school, but he didn't look like he knew what the hell was going on, and if you don't personally know Jake, who cares?

i've softened recently to the concept. i think it's great that Jake got to play in a football game (without risking his life), and i always like it when coaches/athletes abandon their lame allegiances to the "integrity" of the game. however, i wonder how often ESPN (or any national media) has provided as much coverage for any of the other "special" athletes (who actually compete and train for hours every day) out there as they did for Jake.

i mostly miss the "message" of this story. is it that mentally/physically challenged athletes can compete with other "regular athletes"? no. is it that we, as a sports-obsessed culture, need to take the notions of winning and losing a little less seriously? no (the score was already 49-0). so what's this really all about? providing equal opportunities to challenged individuals? i don't think so.

i guess my gut feeling is that all of the people surrounding the story feel a lot better about it than Jake does. that's ok, of course. i just wish people were more honest about their intentions.

i also have been on the other side of the story. at a very small high school in Kentucky, my team was regularly white-washed. on a few occasions, the lopsided score provided our opponents the opportunity to substitute their less-abled (once or twice, mentally/physically handicapped) teammates. that's fine with me, but it ain't no national news.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:22 PM on November 11, 2002

It actually is national news, mrgrimm. For better or for worse.

I wonder why anyone would suppose that the kid isn't as jacked up about this as "all of the other people surrounding the story." Did you watch the clip? He cared. He knew what was going on. And that's all you need to know to figure out the not-so-complex intentions of those involved: they wanted to give this kid something incredible that he could never get on his own.

That's called grace. I guess grace has always been pretty hard to swallow.
posted by footballrabi at 7:03 PM on November 11, 2002

footballrabi: That's called grace. I guess grace has always been pretty hard to swallow.

I think the trick here is that a kind act within a community becomes sort of a preachy, sentimental puff-story when circulated nationwide as a wildly inspiring hoo ha etc.

Yeah, I think, on one level, that it's great that the folks involved gave this kid a chance to score a touchdown. That's a pretty neat thing.

On the other hand, I'm over here in Portland, OR, being told what I should feel about this, that I should be moved and inspired. It's like calling folks "heroes" without discrimination. I have a hard time not looking at spoonfed sentimentality with a cautious eye, I guess.
posted by cortex at 7:34 PM on November 11, 2002

I agree with you, cortex. Media sentimentality grates on one's nerves, and to be honest, I could have easily gone the other way on this one. Perhaps if I had seen it on ESPN I might have ignored this thread altogether. I can see the media easily ruining this one (they probably already have).

But I just watched the clip. The only context was a high school football game- no newscaster, no commentary and no music (except for the crowd and the ref's whistle). Very ordinary, very familiar. That's why it struck me as a gracious act to be celebrated- here is a community of people giving a gift to someone who would never otherwise get it. Right in the middle of the ordinary (Ohio, no less) comes the extraordinary. It looks familiar, smells familiar and sounds familiar, and then it transcends for just a few moments. That's cool to me.
posted by footballrabi at 8:39 PM on November 11, 2002

Yeah, I agree that it was a great gesture on the part of the coaches, and good for the kid for going to practice just out of a love for the game and all that.

But even that local piece was "sentimental hoo-ha". I mean, it's great, but it's not going to make me teary-eyed and view America in a new light. The article sorta gave the impression that this is an absolute rarity, something that has never happened. I knew a girl who invited a homeless man she didn't know to Christmas dinner last year. Damned nice? Sure. Hero? Somewhat of a stretch.
posted by Kevs at 9:18 PM on November 11, 2002

It's easy to be cynical here, and I'm about as cynical a bastard as they come, but I've seen a few reports about this, and while mostly cheesed up, the kid in question (Jake) is undeniably very excited about this, and in the end that's what cheers me up.
A great thing for the community to have done and whatnot, but the kid will remember this for a long, long time ( I assume, I don't know him nor the severity of his condition) and could well be one of the proudest and most looked-backed-upon moments of his life.
posted by dig_duggler at 10:02 PM on November 11, 2002

here is a community of people giving a gift to someone who would never otherwise get it

Hmmm. Maybe that's true. Reading the links about Jake and his school I've got to say that the anecdote about his being chosen as the escort for the Homecoming Queen speaks more to me about the gifts this community is giving to Jake - day in and day out - than the other short news spots I've seen did.

On the other hand (and MaddCutty, I'd especially like your thoughts on this) I find myself wondering how our nation could be changed if NBC and ESPN and where-ever else were to spend as much time covering, say, the Special Olympics as they have spent on this one story. There are kids like Jake in every community in this nation, many of whom also fight daily to overcome physical limitations that Jake does not have, and yet these kids don't make the national news.

I'm very torn. Was it a gift to him? It was clearly an impulse that came out of affection for him. But was it an act that conveyed affection, or one that merely conveyed a condescending attitude - "he's not normal, so we'll just help him score, 'cause he could never do it on his own."
posted by anastasiav at 10:20 PM on November 11, 2002

I'm really surprised by the amount of negative attitude towards this. People seem to be alright with professional athletes showing off and playing for themselves, then when someone tries to give someone a lifelong memory they all have the wrong idea. It doesn't make sense to me.

In response to anastasiav and the condescending attitude comment. Do you know any "shorter" people? Let's say the fridge is 7 feet tall and your girlfriend is only 4'10" and asks you to get something off the top. I don't know one moral minded person that would say "I'm not going to get it for you because I don't have a condescending attitude towards short people." It sounds ridiculous to me.

The idea is not that they let him score, but instead that they gave him a lifelong memory.
posted by Hypharse at 10:59 PM on November 11, 2002

I have a hard time not looking at spoonfed sentimentality with a cautious eye, I guess.

Then just look at it from someone's perspective that was in the stands that evening, before the hype. The game was a blow out. Both teams came together and let the kid get a touchdown. That's a nice thing to do, all around. If more folks did small things like that, I think the world would be a better place, spoonfed sentimentality or not.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 4:50 AM on November 12, 2002

Puke: I wholly agree with that. Like I said before, I think what those folks did is really neat.

I really think it's a clash, here, between content and presentation. When you take a simple story like this and disseminate it nationally, it feels a lot like some goddam e-mail forward -- I end up eyeing the bottom of the article for something like "Microsoft is monitoring these e-mails, and for every one sent Jake will get $300!!!!"

Like anastasiav suggested, our news media don't really spend any time talking about disabled kids unless there's Some Sentimental Story. It feels a little disingenuous, then, when something like this gets pimped nationwide. It's not that what the town did wasn't good; it was. It's not that I'm not happy for Jake; I am.
posted by cortex at 5:28 AM on November 12, 2002

cortex: I understand and agree with your point. We have to filter the noise from the signal as possible. Does the presentation cheapen the story? Sure, but it's a nice story none the less.

I am more frustrated by the straight ahead cynics who cannot seperate the story from hype (or the pimp from the ho to use your analogy, heh.) Cynicism is something to fight against, it just eats you up if you let it. It's a daily battle for me, but I see a difference in the person I am when I am less cynical.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 6:14 AM on November 12, 2002

Heh, I'm really proud of everyone who contributed to this discussion; I feel that several valuable points were made. More importantly my initial reaction was re-shapened.

I'm with all the cynics, I can't abide the "everyday heroes" aspect of the story. As if there was a national agenda to push these sentimental gestures in our face and say, "See. See, how great AmericaTM is!"

But CoolHandPuke wrote:
If more folks did small things like that, I think the world would be a better place, spoonfed sentimentality or not.

And he is right. If only this sort of stuff was an everyday occurrence and we didn't have to broadcast it to the rest of the Nation.

I'm still a bit uneasy about the whole Homecoming Queen thing, though. Sexuality and retardation is an uneasy mix. Hope this doesn't set the guy up for unrealistic expectations.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:37 AM on November 12, 2002

Gravy, I agree that this has been a great discussion...everyone was civil and thoughtful. **hugs**

Maybe we can get some national press for this community's feel-good moment
posted by msacheson at 5:06 PM on November 12, 2002

« Older Alien Tiles Game   |   Diego Doval Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments