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a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is July 16, 2018

Grin 'n' Bare It

Sports can teach us a life lesson

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

Over the years, Mr. Roy and I have picked sports teams that we liked and followed their progress through the season. As I remember during the late 1980s, we followed the Atlanta Braves baseball team and even drove to Atlanta several times to watch them play. We purchased season tickets for MSU sports in football and basketball for many years. I have recounted our good times in the RV parked at MSU in motorhome city and at away games. We drove to New York in 1996 with a caravan of friends to watch the Male Dawgs in the Final Four basketball tournament. What fun that was.

Couples who enjoy sports are blessed, simply because they can spend more time together and talk about the game after it’s over. We are truly football fans, especially MSU. But this year we began early watching their women’s basketball team play. We knew they would be good since they played for the NCAA National Championship in 2017, but were defeated by the University of South Carolina.

Since the MSU women were runners-up, big things were expected for the 2017-2018 season. I stocked up on small bags of potato chips, nabs, dips ... you know, all that junk that’s bad for you. We turned our semi-recliners around very close to the large TV and made our nest. No more RVing since we sold it last fall.

I’ll veer off a moment. For sports fans who haven’t watched women’s college basketball in years, you’re missing out on a great fast-action sport. My memories of girls’ games when I was in high school and college have little resemblance to the game today. Our youngest daughter, Babette, tried to play in junior high. She was so tiny that when someone threw her the ball it would knock her down.

So when the season started, we watched almost every game on TV that we could, and attended one game on campus. We learned all the players’ names and found ourselves cheering for Vivians, McCowan, Johnson, Big “T” (6’ 7”) and “Little” Morgan.

At the end of the season their record was 33 wins and only one loss. The NCAA tournament began with the Lady Dawgs picked as a No. 1 seed in their region.

After relatively easy wins over Nichols State, Oklahoma State, North Carolina and UCLA they were back in the Final Four. After winning a tough game against the University of Louisville, the Lady Dawgs were in the National Championship against Notre Dame.

After a slow start, MSU slowly built a 15-point lead. But by the end of the third quarter the Fighting Irish had fought back and taken the lead. During the fourth quarter the game was very close and with just seconds left the score was tied.

Then disaster struck. Notre Dame’s best player hit a long three-point shot, and again the Lady Dawgs had lost their chance to win a National Championship.

It was very hard to accept. Our grandson’s wife is a big MSU fan, and she cried half the night, we were told. Mr. Roy and I have been disappointed before, and as he told me after the game, “The losses just make the wins sweeter.”  

I agree with Mr. Roy that organized sports teach valuable lessons about life. In most cases, if you are well prepared, work hard and do things the right way, good things will happen. (But not always.)

I don’t agree with some of the educators who advocate that kids should not play games where there are winners and losers. When those young people grow up, how will they deal with not being selected for a promotion or the multitude of other disappointments that are part of life?

As all good Bull Dawg fans have learned to say over these many years, “Just wait till next year!”

Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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