HS BBall Teams Should Be Honored
Updated 2/21 @ 8:42pm: Madison Milwaukee’s coach submitted a letter to the editor in Dekalb’s local paper, and ABC’s “World News With Charlie Gibson” named the Dekalb team “Person of the Week”. Also check SportsCenter Sunday for more on this story.
I read this story from the Associated Press on Rivals.com, and my first thought was that in a week where we had A-Rod’s press conference, Charles Barkley’s return to TNT after a DUI, and those were just in the sports world, that this amazing story of sportsmanship should be getting even more play.
If you haven’t heard about this story I really recommend reading the Associated Press story on the Rivals link above. I don’t want to just simply retell the story, and the link has some great details. The short version is that last Saturday Dekalb, Ill., High School traveled to Milwaukee to take on Milwaukee Madison. Seems like a regular high school basketball game, right?
It turned into one of the most heartwarming sports stories in a while, and something that most pros could learn from. Hours before the game Milwaukee Madison guard Johntel Franklin lost his mother to cervical cancer. The senior guard was not expected to play or even attend the game, and therefore wasn’t added to the roster. But, to the surprise of everyone in the gym, Franklin showed up in the second quarter and wanted to play.
The issue arose when officials notified both teams that it would be a technical foul, and two free throws for Dekalb, if Franklin entered the game. Dekalb wanted to decline the technical, but that wasn’t an option, so they huddled up and their coach, Dave Rohlman, asked for a volunteer to shoot the free throws.
Dekalb’s captain stepped up and volunteered. This is where the story really begins to tug at the heartstrings. According to the Associated Press, Coach Rohlman said to his captain, Darius McNeal, “You realize you’re going to miss them, don’t you?” McNeal went to the foul line and rolled the ball twice to the baseline, ensuring each attempt was official. The Madison team, realizing what had just happened, began applauding towards the Dekalb bench with the entire gym following suit.
Again, there are far more details in the Associated Press story, but I’d also like to take a PR look at this. Besides the amazing acts of theses young athletes, my other reaction was that I hope the Milwaukee Bucks get involved. The Bucks have had a tough season, but they can do the right thing here and make this a bright spot by honoring these kids. I have to think that the Bucks have or will contact both schools to invite them in to catch a game, pregame warm ups and snag a few autographs.
Of course the Bucks would get some positive press out of this, but believe it or not, the marketing and PR people that come up with these idea really are trying to do a good thing, and this would certainly qualify. I’ll keep my eye on this and and definitely post a follow up if the Bucks do anything.
One more thing, can we also lock Johntel Franklin, Darius McNeal and the Dekalb coach down for an ESPY? I’d love to see these kids honored in front of the best athletes in the world.