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Special Olympics deserves your support

By Staff
Charles Prince, Sports Editor
Last Friday was day number four of the state high school basketball championships in Birmingham. The fans saw players hustling for loose balls, teams working to find the open shooter and tight games that weren't decided until the fourth period buzzer.
I was at Decatur High School watching basketball. I saw players dive for loose balls, teams passing the ball to the open shooter and athletes who played with as much desire as if a state championship was on the line. I was not attending the state playoffs, I was witnessing something more grand-I was watching Special Olympics basketball.
In many ways it was a typical basketball atmosphere. Cheerleaders led chants during time outs and tumbled to entertain the crowd at half time. Coaches calling time out when their team was fairing badly. Players scrapping for every rebound and the crowd applauding each made basket. Parents standing and yelling with pride at each basket their child made. After each game the players on both sides shook hands and told each other "good game."
In other ways these were not typical basketball games. No one screamed at the officials or suggested they needed glasses.
Not one coach got in a player's face and yelled.
Boys and girls were on the same teams.
Then at halftime the cheerleaders performed, but some of them were in wheelchairs. They were as lively and excited as any cheerleaders you will see. The wheelchairs didn't hold them back from enjoying themselves and entertaining the crowd.
The players may not be as skilled as the local varsity teams, but their desire to win was just as strong. Their love for the game was evident in the effort they put forth.
These athletes are great examples of courage and persistence. As I watched them, I realized there was much I could learn from their example.
If I were in their place would I show the same determination?
Some of the performances may have seemed marred by coming up short on the scoreboard, but all the athletes I saw won–because they played.
I hope that the next time the Special Olympics are played in Morgan County that you attend.
Do yourself a favor and attend a Special Olympics event and see for yourself why these athletes are called 'Special.' These athletes deserve your respect and support. I think you will find the experience both humbling and joyful.
If you don't attend, then shame on you, because you are missing out on seeing just how uplifting and marvelous the human spirit can be.

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