Sport, when played with an open heart, graciousness and a sense of proportion, is often the vehicle that, more than any other, brings the absolute best out of us as people, forcing us not only to find the hidden corners of our talent but also the finest aspects of our humanity.
Sport, at whatever level it’s played, is a living, breathing, highly-personal drama in which we invest some of our most profound emotions; through sport, we get to experience the ecstasy of victory, the character-building pain of defeat, or just the simple glow that comes from witnessing and sharing others’ moments in the spotlight. Of course, it’s even better when such sporting brilliance comes from the most unlikely of sources, or in the unlikeliest of circumstances...
Jason McElwain’s story is well-known. It is also timeless. Without wishing to give any spoilers for those who haven’t yet seen it, while at high school Jason, diagnosed as autistic, would dutifully turn up to assist in the running of the basketball team, happy just to help others, to give them encouragement. All the while, however, he was slowly accumulating know-how, fine-tuning his feel for the game. And then one day ... one day ... well, why not get yourself a box of Kleenex and watch the clip (again).
What I love about this story is the fact that the crowd respond to him before he gets on the court, before he gets “as hot as a pistol”. In other words, their love for Jason was not contingent upon him being a ‘success’. He already was a success because of the selfless devotion he showed to his team, the energy he gave them, the enthusiasm dripping from his every action.
The joy of the crowd – the utter delirium that sweeps through them – is something that sport gives us more than anything else in life. And if life is not about joy, then what else is it about?
But more than that, the hero in this clip – the hero within – is that part of all of us that shares in the glory – the always fleeting glory – of others.