A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Friday, March 03, 2006

Feel Good Story?

You may well by now have heard about Jason McElwain, or J-Mac, the highly functioning autistic student that had served as the varsity basketball teams student assistant for the last four years. If you haven't, go here and watch the video, it's not real long.

Great, right? Hard working kid overcomes his disability and has the night of his life. Something to remeber forever. Super.

Except, well... there's a hitch if you ask me. Because the only reason J-Mac was in the game in the first place was because his team was already ahead by around 20 (I can't find an actual box score anywhere on the web) when the game reached the 4 minute mark of the 2nd half. The final score? 79 to 43 (you'll have to scroll down a bit). J-Mac's team won by 36! Oh, and by the way, Spencerport, the team that lost and got to see J-Mac drill 6-threes on them? They finished 0-12 in league play.

So, let me ask this: Given that he had already had the thrill of being in the game AND the thrill of making a three-pointer, why exactly was it necessary for McElwain to keep shooting every time his team had the ball? Point in fact, it wasn't. The story is just as feel good if it ends with J-Mac getting into the game and making his shot as it is if he helps his team thouroughly embarrass another school for no reason other than to see how many points J-Mac could put up.

Would everybody being calling this a great story if one of the team's regulars kept shooting threes after his team was AHEAD BY THIRTY? Not a chance-- there instead would be rousing choruses decrying the poor sportsmanship of the coach and the team. And deservedly so.

But we don't hear boo about that, do we? Instead, McElwaine's feat is described as follows:
It really doesn't get much better than this, a true example of how sports can create a positive experience. It was the type of story a Hollywood studio would dream up.
A true example of how sports can create a positive experience? You think it was all that positive for the Spencerport kids? You think they really got a kick out of watching their opponent continue to take shot after shot after shot despite being ahead by a country mile? Can you see them going home with their folks and saying, "Yeah, too bad we lost by 36 and were totally embarrassed, but wasn't it cool how the team manager overcame his autism to score 20 against us in his last home game?"

Take a close look at the posture and faces of the other team in that video. Does it look like they're having a good time? I give Jim Johnson credit for putting McElwaine in the game until he hit a shot or two. Great, nice gesture, very cool.

But after one or two it becomes: salt+open wound+vigorous rubbing.


Exposing the dirty underbelly of the headlines--You da Man!

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