Tuesday was supposed to be a day of L.O.V.E. Hearts. Candy. Happiness. Romance. Wonderfulness all around. And it started out great. I wrote my wonderful blog post to my wonderful husband. I gave my students their Valentine's and they thought I was wonderful. Nana and Papa gave "LaLa" [as they have begun referring to her] a sweet Valentine gift. Life was beautiful.
And then we hopped in the car and drove to the basketball game. THE basketball game. The game we had been anticipating all season long. The game against our nemesis. The game that would bring either us or them to win number 20 of the season. The game that would solidify one of our undefeated statuses in the conferences. A game between rivals that were both ranked in the state.
It was a big game.
I always tell my students that background knowledge is an important part to any story. So here is a little: At the beginning of the season, we faced this team in a championship of a tournament. We hung with them, and played really well. And then in the 3rd quarter things got a little sour. And sour puts it nicely. Let's just say that one of the players on the other team violently threw down Torri [my Torri!], and NO FOUL was called. We're talking, wrapped her up, flipped her down. Torri couldn't catch herself because one of her arms was in the vice grip of the other girl's arm, and so she stopped her fall with her head. Which began to bleed quite a lot. Everywhere. Again, no foul was called on what should have been a technical. Long story short, it took several minutes to clean up all the blood from the court, and eventually Torri came back in the game after they cleared that she didn't have a concussion. Days later though her neck would swell, she could barely turn her head, and had to spend 2 nights in the hospital. That's right, folks, I said hospital. And the girl that intentionally caused this act of aggression didn't even get so much as a slap on the wrist [i.e. a technical, or even a "word" from her coach].
Back to Tuesday. To say there was a little "bad blood" between these two teams is a bit of an understatement. And it didn't settle any of our minds when we walked into the gym and noticed that one of the refs was the same ref that didn't call the technical/ even a regular foul the first time around. Great.
The game got started. Both teams looked great. The gym was packed and hot. The game went back and forth and back and forth and was rougher than ever. By the end of the first quarter, we had fouled enough to send the Hornets into double bonus at the free throw line. Not good.
By the beginning of the second half, things were still looking good, minus the foul trouble we were in. Again the Hornets reached double bonus rather quickly due to our fouls, while they remained at 3 team fouls. Though this seemed lopsided, we do tend to foul a lot, but it felt that the game was getting a bit out of hand.
And then it happened. It was almost dejavu except it wasn't Torri this time, and thank goodness there wasn't any blood. The SAME girl who had played so violently and dirty the last time--the SAME girl who threw Torri defenselessly to the ground-- had the ball. She took it up for a shot, and one of our girls fouled her on the shot. A simple foul you see all the time in basketball games. But this girl had to retaliate. This girl had to grab our girl around the neck and throw her to the ground, then work herself free and throw her foot back in a final kick attempt, just in case our girl didn't get the message.
We expected this from that girl. But this time…the ref's whistle blew! [Oh don't worry, the one who didn't call anything the first time when there was BLOOD was sure NOT to blow his whistle this time…it was the other guy]. We leaped to our feet in anticipation of the call; the technical foul that would finally give us a little justice and the understanding that yes, it is not okay to play that dirty; yes, it is not okay to send a girl to the hospital. But then all we could do was stare in horror as they not only assigned the regular foul to our girl on the shot, but then gave HER the technical. The girl that had thrown her to the ground would AGAIN receive no discipline for her actions. And as she made her way to the free throw line, she smiled.
Let's just say, I am not proud of the way I acted in that moment. Let's just say, I am surprised I didn't go into labor right then and there. And after all, I still consider these MY girls from when I coached them last year.
After that, we kind of went down in flames. They were 31-43 from the freethrow line. We were 1-5. We shot FIVE freethrows to their FORTY THREE.
I yelled and screamed and hollered and sweat and pumped my fists in anger the entire time. I may have even had smoke coming out of my ears. For real.
What in the world?
When I was a player I prided myself on always keeping my cool. Refs miss calls all the time. I had to learn to let it roll of my back. I even wrote a verse on my shoes: "let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Oh Lord." Apparently I should have written that on my hand before going to the game the other night.
I hate how easily I could be drawn into those thoughts. Brent even said later…much later…as it took us both HOURS to calm down from this game…that he hated how "controlled" he felt by the situation; that he lost control of himself for a bit.
In church right now we are doing a study of Proverbs and looking at how to live wisely. Tuesday we were not living wisely and letting the Spirit control us. We were controlling us, and it was ugly. This was a good reminder to me.
I need to feed myself with the Spirit so I am not responsible for my actions but rather He is. Also, I realized later, after cooling down, that it was a game. A GAME. How could I let my blood boil like that over a game?!
I have now resolved to think more and practice more control, especially at basketball games; to let myself consciously think about the GAME, still enjoy the competition and enthusiasm and atmosphere, but be in control of my words and actions.
I don't know if anyone actually hung with me through this entire post…especially if you don't even know the game I was referring to. I wrote it mostly for myself. To put it out there, somewhere, as something to hold me accountable. I know I will forget this. I know I will have to come back and be reminded at some point in time.
SO the next time you are at a basketball game and you see an insane, pregnant lady hollering and screaming with fiery red eyes, check to see if it is me. If it is, please come and tell me to simmer down.
***On a final note: Brent and I are going to write a letter to the Missouri State High School Athletics Association about the actions that were allowed/not called out during this game. We feel that someone should be held accountable for the actions of that particular player, especially since she is only a freshman and needs to learn that it is inappropriate and dangerous to play in the manner she does. We decided this though when we were calm and in control….though thinking about it again makes me need to take a deep breath…this may be more difficult than I think.