Over. Done. Finished. Hopeless. Ended.
These are words that in sports have only one true usage. They can only with certainty be applied when the clock is at zero, or the bell rings, or the final inning is over. Before that time comes, the game must still be played.
I recently covered a game on the Metro Sports Commission that seemed to be fitting of those aforementioned words, long before the clock finished its downward journey. And yet, with perseverance, talent, determination, and some fortunate bounces, the game proved far from finished, not even close to over, and hope abounded.
Four minutes into a boys basketball game between the Saint Johns Prep Johnnies and the Kimball Area Cubs, Kimball, the visitors, had an 18-0 lead. The Johnnies were missing point blank shots, turning the ball over, allowing the Cubs to score at will. The game came ever so close to slip sliding away.
But then, methodically, defensively and determinedly the Johnnies chipped away at the lead. A basket, and a stop. A three pointer and a turn-over. Another basket and a stop. By halftime they were within six points.
The second half is when the fun really began.
If the home-town Johnnies had any doubts early about their chances, they were supremely confident now, trading blows in the form of baskets for the first 12 minutes of the half. Then, the Cubs faltered, and the Johnnies pounced. All of a sudden a two point game. Then a tie. Then a lead! What once had been ugly discouragement, was now turning to a resounding accomplishment.
Now this tale is clearly not the norm. Some early blow-outs do not have thrilling comebacks with the fans of an historic little gym pounding in excitement as the home town version of the light brigade charges back from the brink. Some, end in defeat. Ugly defeat at that. But then again, some don't. And who's to say which way that next blowout game will turn. So you must play the game.
Saint Johns Prep went on to get the victory, snapping back from, not just the jaws of defeat, but the back molars of desolation. In so doing they don't just even their own record to 7-7, they stand as proof that games are only truly won or lost when you stop playing. In sports, and life, you can chose to quit early when things go bad, or you can play through, whether winning or losing, to the very end.