Athletics is a harsh friend. It promises much, and sometimes delivers. At other times, it cuts the heart out of those who choose to participate.
The Washington girls basketball team watched its hopes for a sectional championship leave Cabby O¹Neil Gymnasium last week at Jasper in the final
10 seconds of a game against Jasper that had lived up to its hype.
Jasper, who won its fourth straight Class 3A championship this past Saturday against Mitchell, and the Hatchets were the two favorites going in, and while neither team or its members would say so, there was not a lot of doubt the winner of the second game on opening night was the likely tournament winner.
The game was tied, Washington owned possession of the ball, and after a timeout, prepared to inbound the ball on its side of the time line.
The Hatchets inbounded the ball to Audra Lane who was straddling the time line.
She was called for an over and back, giving the ball back to the Wildcats.
The call was wrong, but it was the call.
Jasper inbounded, was fouled, made the first of two free throws, and that was that.
Officials are human just like the rest of us. Officials are much like doctors who do open heart surgery. They need to be perfect to start, and then improve.
The call in last Tuesday's game was wrong in many ways. But it did not defeat Washington. It didn't guarantee a win for Jasper.
It is easy to think of the call as criminal. But it wasn't criminal because the call in itself beat the Hatchets.
High school athletes basically work the year round. They spend more time working on their specialty in a year that I did in four in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
That work doesn't guarantee victories. If it did, we would never have winners and losers of games.
Hard work does help athletes have better opportunities to achieve what they desire. That¹s really the only guarantee athletes receive from sports.
And that¹s really that¹s the one thing athletes can ask. They may want more, they may want to achieve in ways that go beyond a simple hope.
Still, in all honesty, it¹s the only objective athletes can really request.
Give me the moment, give me the opportunity. Let me show you what I can do.
Washington put in the time. They put in the work. They were close to achieving their goal.
They weren't provided that opportunity to display the results of that time and work on the stage of their choice.
That was the real loss of this situation. They made the costly investment athletics demand, but when the time came, they were denied the return.
They deserved better.