I attended a basketball game last week between two recreation teams made up of 10-year-old players. My guess is the majority of the players won't ever play varsity basketball, but enjoy playing the game purely for the sport of it.
As is typical in this league at this level, the score remained relatively low as the final minute approached. The Eagles trailed by four at the half but rallied to take a 16-14 lead and then secured a rebound with less than a minute to play in hopes of maintaining possession for its first win of the season.
Two weeks ago in a similar situation, the Eagles found themselves on the trailing side of the score as the opposing team passed the ball back and forth near half court, eventually running the clock out to capture the win. A league rule -- which states that the defense can't pressure the ball outside the 3-point arc -- left the trailing team helpless.
Faced with the same game situation, but with his team ahead, the Eagles head coach refused to take advantage of what he considered an unfair rule. Instead of telling his guards to just pass the ball back and forth near half court, he insisted his team run a play and hopefully learn how to protect the ball and finish off a win.
As luck would have it, the point guard dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds, giving the opposing team the ball and a chance to tie the game. The overtime period remained scoreless and so the game ended in a tie.
I caught up with the coach after the game to congratulate him on what I considered to be a good coaching move. He told me that while he was certainly disappointed his team didn't get its first win, if he had to do it all over again he wouldn't change a thing. His philosophy is that the kids need to learn to finish out the games, not succumb to a league rule that lets teams hold the ball at the end and not even play real basketball.
"The good things are the boys are having fun, the team is bonding, they are learning the game and getting better each week," he said.
And then he added, "But our first win will be nice."
In my book, this coach is already a winner.
Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous websites. Send comments to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.