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RANDY HUFF: How Could a Game Bring Tears?

I cry and wonder why, which is ok I guess. I often weep while watching stories, sometimes for reasons hard to explain. The right orchestral score can move a person when added to pictures . . .  or something like that.

When I re-watched the ending of the Iowa vs. U-Conn basketball game I wept. I felt for the skill of the players – so amazing. I saw how they yearned for mastery and winning, how they gave to one another with utmost interest to make the team all it could possibly be. I wept for youth – that sweet way only they can feel and know and be: they are unaware, I think, of the life-gift that breathes through them.

I saw the stars, too, or rather the star, the Miss Clark from Iowa who bedazzles with long shots, poise, and competitive zeal. Seems a remarkable person. We too easily discount all that goes into these athletic endeavors. Yes, the best among us would remind us not to over-value such things. But the treasure in the human spirit comes forth in the best of sport, and this game displays it.

I think I felt most for the scene with 3.9 left when U-Conn could likely win with a 2 point basket but was called for an offensive foul instead. In this case one of U-Conn’s “bigs” – Edwards – slid into a screen which small Iowa shooting guard – Marshall – tried to scramble around. The ref called it immediately as Marshall’s being repelled by the mild shoulder lunge — or heavy lean — was convincing enough.

The ref’s call was gutsy and when I watch in slow motion I think the call was deserved. Just hard with 3 seconds to go and the game on the line. It brought the tears for all involved: the ref, the whole U-Conn team, the jubilant Iowa team given a miraculous break. A simple layup would have likely won it for U-Conn. They came up short.

As the beloved ABC Wide World of Sports opening mantra had it when I was a boy: “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.”

Tears? The human spirit with all its wins and losses, surpassing joy and unspeakable sadness, evokes them. Sport supersedes life in such moments and tells us there’s a secret in playing it that matters as much as other endeavors.

And maybe even more.

Or so hint my tears.

Randy Huff

Randy Huff and his wife lived for 5 years in Roanoke (Hollins) where they raised 2 sons. Randy served as Dean of Students at a Christian school and then worked in construction. For the last 8 years he has served as pastor of a church in North Pole, Alaska.

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