Thursday, November 16, 2017

Just A Normal Thing

I went to work out at the YMCA last weekend, and a wheelchair basketball tournament was in progress.

It was kids.

Every time I see a kid in a wheelchair, I feel sorry for them. My feelings don't come from a bad place, but it's patronizing. I assume that a wheelchair is a life-breaker.

I assume that kids aren't strong enough to handle it. In truth, though, it's because I couldn't handle it.

After I worked out, I watched a few games. And you know what?

It was all so very normal.

Kids, being athletes. Playing hard, and playing physical. Parents griping about the referees.

The basketball was solid. Fast breaks. Kids setting picks. Selling out on defense. One kid, clearly the star, being selfish with the ball.

Nobody felt sorry. There was nothing to feel sorry about.

While I was watching the game, I kept accidentally getting in the way of a very small person in a wheelchair. Every time I apologized, he said, "It's all good." So when I saw him, and I wasn't in his way (for once), I asked him how many games a day they played, and if it was tough, because the pace was so high.

He said, "We train for it, so it's not bad," and I told him good luck in his game. Even though he didn't look like an athlete, at all, I stayed and watched for a few minutes, and looks were deceiving. He was deft with the chair, and his basketball I.Q. was high.

I talked to a lady who was running the merchandise table, and she said there's a tournament circuit, and the best teams travel all over the country. Not quite AAU basketball, but not that different, either. She said that kids in chairs often struggle with depression, and being on a team gives them a positive experience, and goals. Plus, she said handling a chair on a daily basis is much, much easier when you play sports.

I looked at the faces of the people streaming in as I walked out. Nobody felt sorry.

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