High school sports — thanks for the memories There is nothing better, or more unforgettable, than a thrilling ending.
Yes, playing high school sports develops character, teaches responsibility, builds camaraderie, helps young people stay in shape and in rare instances can even lead to college scholarships.
In the end, though, it all comes down to the memories.
This fact came to mind after I watched a video that created quite the stir at our school, The Palmdale Aerospace Academy, on Friday.
The video shows the final seconds of the TPAA Griffins game against visiting Trinity Academy of Santa Clarita.
Down by two points with eight seconds left, the Griffins had no choice
but to foul in hopes of getting the ball back.
Trinity missed the free throw. Senior Eric Alford grabbed the rebound for the Griffins, looked up court, and seeing no one open, began to dribble.
He spotted Isaiah Enyard open near center court and flipped him the ball. Three seconds to go.
Enyard drove into the forecourt and let fly from 32 feet. Nothing but net, as they say, and the place went nuts — Griffins win by one on the threepoint buzzerbeater!
I’m willing to bet that many of you, reading the account of that thrilling ending, flashed back to your own high school days.
Either as an athlete or spectator, you probably remember a similar thriller — whether in basketball, football, soccer, baseball or some other sport — in high school.
Those memories with you.
I told the basketball players Friday morning that they will remember that shining moment for the rest of their lives.
And I told them I could prove it.
At my 40th high school reunion back in New York in 2015, the talk turned stay to two free throws by our classmate Doug Craine four decades before.
Everyone remembered that game. We were down by one, and Doug drew a foul as he drove to the basket just as the final buzzer sounded.
Two free throws with no time on the clock. No need for the other players to remain on the court, so Doug stood at the freethrow line all alone.
It must have been a lonely place indeed, with all that pressure.
He looked perfectly collected. But, he told us 40 years later, “My knees were shaking.”
Shaking knees or no, he sank both free throws, giving our school the win and all of us a lifelong memory.
The basketball players at TPAA seemed pleased to hear that they likely would be talking about Eric’s pass and Isaiah’s 32foot buzzerbeater four decades from now.
It is a scenario that plays out on countless high school basketball courts around the nation this winter, creating memories and teaching lessons in — as they used to say on ABC’S “Wide World of Sports” — the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Every so often you hear someone say that sports aren’t important, that kids should focus on their academics. Or they’ll say schools place too much emphasis on sports.
Academics remains the top priority, of course; and it can’t be denied that some schools get their priorities out of whack and place too much import on sports.
But don’t let anyone tell you sports don’t play an important role in the lives of young people.
Just ask those basketball players — in 2069.
William P. Warford’s column appears every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.