Winless basketball team sings the blues away

I couldn’t help but notice the difference in coverage of a winless basketball team compared to one in Wrenshall, Minn., years ago. The girls of Wrenshall were late-night jokes. The story of the boys of McKay High School in Oregon, appropriately, was properly depicted in a nice story this week on Oregon Live.

The Oregon kids lost 61-to-13 the other night. They’re winless on the season. Seventeen games. Seventeen losses.

Their eighth-year coach is frustrated, but he snapped this video on the way home of his kids, the junior varsity, and the girl’s team.

“I really needed that,” Sanderson tells columnist John Canzano. “The kids have a way of lifting me up.”

Just a team, on a bus, understanding that life can be gnarled and knotted. Adversity will hit. Things will go sideways. In the end, high school sports is a wonderful and safe place for a young person to fail, isn’t it?

I was particularly moved by Allise’s effort to get the rest of his teammates involved. He urged them to join in. He even called upon the coach to sing. And in that moment what you had wasn’t a failed bunch of splintered players, but a galvanized bunch.

That kind of soaring spirit has become lost in amateur athletics. Well-meaning parents too often strive to fix their children’s problems. Kids are transferring from schools, chasing success, as if they were NBA players. And in that, I wonder if we all understand that the vast majority of high school athletes won’t even play for a college.

Your kid will work for a bad boss someday. They’ll have a trying co-worker. Maybe they’ll even find themselves in a failed relationship or pioneering a losing business proposition. What our society has left them with is an impaired ability to cope.

Not at McKay and not at Wrenshall back in the day. Some kids learn important lessons by what others consider failure. You show up, you work hard. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, so you keep working on it because someday it might.

By the way, the kids of Wrenshall (different kids, same spirit) are still plugging away. The team, the official high school girls basketball team of NewsCut, are 5-and-20 on the year and 1-and-6 in conference play, and they had a 78-to-4 loss to Cromwell and a 64-to-45 win over Kelley.

Someone should go do a story about them.