As hard as it is for sports fans to believe, you can be a winner even though your team lost the game.
Case in point was the Ravenswood-Tyler Consolidated Class AA Region 1 championship game at The Pit on Thursday night. On the scoreboard, the Red Devils were a one-point, 56-55, victor. But there are times when sportsmanship transcends the competition and this was one of those times.
First, the fans, coaches and players for both teams joined together to show their concern for freshman Brock Yeater as the Silver Knights' player is undergoing treatment for leukemia as well as the father of Tyler Consolidated players Torrye and Kerstyn Cline who is at the Cleveland Clinic trying to win his battle with kidney cancer.
Orange ribbons (leukemia) and green ribbons (kidney cancer) were distributed before the 7 p.m. tipoff and were highly visible throughout the stands. Allegiance to a particular team meant little as the battle against leukemia and kidney cancer touched the hearts and minds of most in attendance.
As for the game, Ravenswood was the host team because of its Section 1 win over Point Pleasant, but Tyler Consolidated was a slight favorite due to its two regular-season victories over the Red Devils.
Rarely does a game live up to its billing, but this one did as both teams battled back and forth in the hard-fought, physical matchup between the two Little Kanawha Conference North Division rivals.
But as much as both team wanted to win, those desires took a back seat at the 5:58 mark of the third quarter when Tyler sophomore Sydney Reed saw her season end abruptly when a deep cut over her left eye sent her to Jackson General Hospital in Ripley.
Just 25 seconds earlier, Reed had given her team a 35-34 lead on a short bank shot from inside the foul line. Those would prove to be her final points of the game, however, as she ended up on the receiving end of an unintentional elbow.
Teammate Allison Wable had just pulled down a missed shot by the Red Devils' Hannah Murray. A scrum ensued as the Red Devils attempted to tie up Wable and force a jump ball. At some point during the action, Reed received the shot that would knock her out of the game.
But that wasn't the most memorable moment in the game. That came during the hectic minutes after the incident.
The first person on the scene was the Ravenswood trainer, followed closely by one of the police officers on duty. Seeing that the girl was in distress, a call was immediately made for an emergency squad to come to The Pit.
What followed, however, was the part that has stuck in my mind the most. Normally when an event of this magnitude occurs, screams can be heard coming from the crowd of the injured player-that did not happen.
Then you have supporters of the team of the injured player taking the opportunity to berate the officials-that did not happen.
An unfortunate incident turns into an ugly scene where emotions turn into anger and, instead of being concerned for the health of the injured player, those in attendance display their frustrations with acts of unsportsmanlike, or even violent, behavior.
What did happen was one of the most classy things I have witnessed this year and the reason why this game will be one that I will remember for a very, very long time. Every man, woman and child displayed something that you don't often see at a sporting event-concern for the injured player.
It proved what I have said for years-classy people never lose.
Congratulations to both the girls from Ravenswood and Tyler Consolidated for a great game and to all in attendance for an impressive display of sportsmanship and concern for more than just winning a game. You are all winners in my eyes.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org