As many of you are aware, it is football season. This past Friday was not only a game night for my home town, it was homecoming. There was a young man on the football team who was more than a little nervous. This is a big game for the high school, and as a senior, he wanted to make sure he played his best.
The game begins and is intense right from the start. The two opposing teams battle it out. In one of the plays, the senior I mentioned at the beginning, was running for a touchdown before a member of the opposing team pushed him out-of-bounds. The play didn’t stop there, however. The opposing player kept on driving the young man until he had him pinned up against the fence, and still didn’t stop. The victim’s teammates went crazy! They rushed to the aid of this young man and started a scuffle that ended in the suspension of a player from each team.
When the game continued, it was fueled with the excitement of the scuffle. The hits became harder, and the blocks became stronger. Then a player went down. This player was on the opposing team, and when he fell, he went completely limp. He was carried away in an ambulance, but never moved throughout the entire process. There was a rumor going around that his neck had been broken.
The game went on, and in the end, the home team was victorious. They had won their homecoming game, and everything was great. Spectators and parents went wild and then everyone started to flee from the coming rain, all except for the senior who was run into the fence. He stopped amid the chaos to remember the player who had fallen.
I was on my way over to him when my sight of the field was momentarily obstructed as I walked under the bleachers. Suddenly I noticed the entire crowd had gone silent, even the excited announcer has stopped rambling remarks mid-sentence! I don’t know why, but I panicked and ran to get to the other side of the stands so I could see the field. This is what I saw. Off to the side a little ways, both teams were kneeling closely together, their school colors intertwined. In the center of that huddle was that senior boy. His eyes were closed, his helmet was in his hand, and he was praying with a force that would have made any non-believer fall to their knees.
I watched in amazement. Here was this senior boy who was rammed into a fence by this team, yet he was praying for the safety, health, and recovery of one of their players. He was putting everything aside to raise an injured player who wasn’t even one of his teammates up to God. He was performing the most wonderful act of kindness I had ever seen in my life. Tears started falling from my eyes as I watched this incredibly strong young man perform this delicate act of kindness. I am so blessed to be able to call that young man my boyfriend, and blessed to have been able to witness this act of kindness that changed something in my heart.
In the end, only this amazing young man knows if he played his best, but that night he showed everyone there how to be a good teammate as well as a good opponent, and how much any act of kindness can impact so many lives around you. No matter how good you play, sometimes the game is forgotten, but I know that act will not so soon be forgotten.
Sadly, I was not carrying my camera with me at that perfect moment, but I will carry this memory and the image it engraved on my heart always, and I will take that act and learn from it.
Side Note: The injured player did not break his neck. He luckily suffered only from mild swelling in his spinal cord at the base of his neck and is expected to make a full recovery.