We all know the nightly news can be one of the most depressing hours on television on any given day. But occasionally we get a treat – a story that is inspiring, motivational, and, hopefully, causes us to rise to a higher level of nobility.
The Coronado High School Thunderbirds in El Paso, Texas played their last game of the regular season this past week. Coach Peter Morales told his manager Mitchell Marcus to suit up for the game. This wasn’t business as usual, because Mitchell has a developmental disability that limits him both physically and mentally. What no one knew was that Coach Morales intended to play Mitchell at the end of the game, regardless of the score. The interviewer asked Coach Morales, “You were prepared to lose that game?” Without hesitation, the coach replied, “For his moment, yes. For his moment in time, yes.”
With a minute and a half remaining, Coach Morales put Mitchell in the game. Coronado led by ten points, but victory was not assured. Mitchell’s teammates passed him the ball, but he couldn’t get it in the basket. With seconds remaining on the clock, the opposing team had the ball. It looked like the fairy tale ending Coach Morales tried to write for his favorite player would be left unfinished, until opposing player Jonathon Montanez put the final stroke on the masterpiece. Montanez got Mitchel’s attention and, instead of passing it to one of his own teammates, passed it to Mitchell instead. Mitchell turned and put the ball into the basket. The crowd erupted and stormed the floor.
Why did Montanez pass Mitchell the ball? Echoing the words of Christ in Luke 6:31, he said, “I was raised to treat others how you want to be treated. I just thought Mitchell deserved his chance, deserved his opportunity.” Mitchel’s basket didn’t decide the game. Coronado already led by 13 points. But Montanez’s turnover did win a different kind of victory. For sportsmanship, decency, and good will toward others.
Only one team was ahead on the scoreboard, but in the hearts of everyone there that night, both teams won.