The NFL draft will soon be here! It's become an unofficial national holiday for some football fans who analyze every possible move by the teams trying to improve their lot for the upcoming season. It's a foregone conclusion that quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin 111 will be the first two to have their names called. I thought you might enjoy a football story today that has less to do with money and fame and more to do with the one thing we all need, HOPE. This is from October 12, 2006.
Rarely do I watch movies more than once. When I know what's coming next, the enjoyment is drained from the story. I have made an exception with The Music Man, the 1962 musical written by Meredith Wilson, starring Shirley Jones and Robert Preston. A scam artist arrives in a small Iowa town and sells the locals on the idea of a boys' band, complete with uniforms and instruments. It's a hoax, uncovered by the old maid librarian (Jones) who threatens to expose the con artist (Preston) until she falls in love with him. As the scheme unravels and the pretend band director is about to be tarred and feathered, the Iowans make a fascinating discovery. The band, even though it was a swindle, had the ripple effect of giving the town a passion for living and raising the expectations of a bunch of aimless kids. The conniving Professor Harold Hill unintentionally gives River City a new lease on life.
This week, espn.com features an intriguing story of a town and its high school football team. Barrow, Alaska is the furthest northern community in the United States, located above the Arctic Circle. Due to a grant last year and a new school superintendent, the local high school has inaugurated a football program. With no experience and no culture of the sport, the team took tiny baby steps this season. The decision to add a gridiron squad has bitterly divided this village of less than 5,000. Detractors claim the price tag, in excess of $200,000, was too steep and the funds should have been spent toward more traditional educational goals. Supporters counter that the kids in Barrow, drowning in a sea of alcohol, drugs, and vandalism, now have positive goals to focus on. The jury is out on the long-term outcome of this football experiment in one of the coldest inhabited spots on earth but it is a gripping tale of what can draw a hamlet together or drive a wedge into its collective soul. One thing is for certain; kids who play under those weather conditions on an essentially gravel field can handle adversity.
I have come to realize in my teaching that perhaps the biggest motivator a child has is hope. If a young person has a reason to keep trying, a purpose for persevering, the odds of their realizing any level of success multiplies. Praise stimulates some while others thrive on any sense of belonging. The value of extracurriculars can't be overstated. The bond of pushing toward any sort of collective dream can be priceless with students who feel there is a reward for hanging on in a educational culture that can be daunting and bewildering. Drama productions, literary meets, or any variety of clubs, it really doesn't seem to matter as long as there is a legitimate involvement. Hope is a major theme in the writings of the apostle Paul, who used the term fifty-two times in his epistles. In Romans 5, he places it at the conclusion of a four part listing of ascending levels of spiritual maturity; suffering, perseverance, character, hope. He concludes the thought by stating that "hope does not disappoint us," due to God's love abiding in us through the Holy Spirit. In our academic-social-career-family lives, hope can make our existence bearable. In our spiritual lives, hope makes our Christian walk possible. Whether in a fictional band, a real-life high school football team, or a soul reaching out for heavenly assistance, hope is a runway for a flight into the possible.
Applicable quote of the day:
"If God wanted women to understand men, football would never have been created."
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org