December 10, 2009

Cynical? Yup.

There's a "feel-good" sports story making the viral video rounds and I'm sorry, but I'm not buying in to this one...

If you haven't seen it yet, it involves a freshman in high school who has Down's Syndrome. He suits up for every game, but because he can't really handle any actual contact, he can't play. However, his coach wanted him to have a chance - and so at the end of a blowout, he called time out and asked the other team if they wouldn't mind letting the kid score a touchdown. They agreed and the result made national news...

Maybe it's just me, but I can't feel good about this. If he had played "for real" and legitimately scored a touchdown, I'd be whooping and hollering and ready for the movie of the week to be greenlit. As it is, this is a dog and pony show that feels like it's more a way for the Coach to feel like he's done a good deed than helping the kid any.

It's a far cry than the very real excitement and outpouring of support from all involved in the Jason McElwain story - where an autistic basketball player was given a REAL chance to shine, and he seized it in ACTUAL competition.

And for all the hoopla and the millions of YouTube hits... the raw footage tells the real story. The smattering of applause that is already petering out by the end of this clip says more to the "phoniness" of the moment than anything else.

Am I happy for Matt Ziesel? Sure, I guess. Should I have even heard about this? Probably not.


  1. I might be wrong about this, but they weren't really guarding the autistic kid, were they? Granted, his basket-making was more athletic than just running into the end zone, in a pure sense, but it's not like he was competing against a defense giving 100%.

  2. I think you can see from the video that the defense was guarding him about as closely as you can expect from that level of play. There are hands in his face and the defenders jump on several of his shots. But more importantly, his coach never went to the other coach and said "Hey, we feel bad for this kid. Do you mind playing Ole defense and conceding a layup?" He was "just another 12th man" at that point, and that's why it rang true.