I should have kept a basketball diary. A journal recording every basketball game I’ve ever attended as the mother of four, as the wife of one, a basketball coach.
When my younguns were wee lads it fell to me to get hair combed, socks on, shoes tied, binkies and snacks in the bag, everyone strapped in now? I would haul our brood from game to game, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.
I should be able to coach my own team by now, if only I’d paid better attention to the details. I was always more than a little preoccupied.
I never watched much basketball growing up a stone’s throw away from Auburn University and the University of Georgia. Ours was definitely a football town. I spent countless hours hanging at Mama Burke’s house with the Burke boys watching Alabama or Georgia play. During half-time, Jimmy and Jerry would shoot hoops out back. I saw some church league games of basketball, but I don’t think I ever went to a high school basketball game during my four years at Columbus High.
But you can’t go to Oregon State University and remain a football fan. You must learn to love basketball. It wasn’t all that difficult given one of my best friends, Janice, was dating one of OSU’s finest basketball players, Steve Johnson, and that all of this was happening during Ralph Miller’s reign.
Conversion was inevitable.
But not once during the hundreds and hundreds of basketball games I’ve attended over the years have I ever witnessed the sort of thing that reportedly took place in Indiana over the weekend.
Two private Catholic school rivals – Andrean High and Bishop Noll Institute – were battling it out on the court Friday night. Bishop Noll is largely Latino, Andrean mostly other than.
At some point during the heat of the game, emotions flared and a contingent of Andrean High students borrowed a page from the inflammatory rhetoric of America’s most profane presidential candidate – Donald Trump.
“Build a wall! Build a wall!” they chanted, while holding up a blimp-sized photo of the GOP’s racist leader, along with a sign stating “ESPN DEPORTES.”
“You’re racists!” Bishop Noll students countered back in chants of their own.
This from schools whose missions are modeled after the teachings of Christ.
My heart aches from the weight of all the wrongdoing that this particular GOP candidate perpetrates, gleefully, it would seem. Don’t even get me started on Trump’s threats against the First Amendment.
I’ve been to some intense basketball games over the years. I’ve witnessed some not so sportsmanlike conduct. But I have never been at a game where students took to hurling racial slurs at one another and I grew up in Georgia, mind you.
I am not coming at this as somebody keen on seeing Hillary elected, so don’t dismiss my concerns as just another liberal rant.
I am deeply troubled by Trump. Rhetoric is a dangerous tool in the mouth of a charismatic bigoted leader. I was more than elated to see Max Lucado step out and speak up about Trump’s lack of decency:
I don’t know Mr. Trump. But I’ve been chagrined at his antics. He ridiculed a war hero. He made mockery of a reporter’s menstrual cycle. He made fun of a disabled reporter. He referred to the former first lady, Barbara Bush as “mommy,” and belittled Jeb Bush for bringing her on the campaign trail. He routinely calls people “stupid,” “loser,” and “dummy.” These were not off-line, backstage, overheard, not-to-be-repeated comments. They were publicly and intentionally tweeted, recorded, and presented.
Such insensitivities wouldn’t even be acceptable even for a middle school student body election. But for the Oval Office? And to do so while brandishing a Bible and boasting of his Christian faith? I’m bewildered, both by his behavior and the public’s support of it.
All is not fair in competitions, be it a basketball tournament or a presidential election.
I understand that some find Trump appealing because he reportedly can’t be “bought.” That’s a delusion, I’m sure, but one that many are willing to buy into.
A coworker said to me that he supports Trump because the man says what he thinks and he admires him for that. Should we admire people for saying what they think when what they think is hateful, racist, and just downright belittling of others?
Trump is not a leader. He’s a bully.
There’s a big difference between the two.
Had Trump played basketball, he might have learned the difference.
I pray voters come to recognize that difference sooner rather than later.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Burdy (Mercer University Press).