By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Asst. Editor
CHEROKEE, N.C. – I’ve covered a good many Cherokee vs. Swain Co. athletic contests over the years, and it’s always an interesting time between the two rivals. The Lady Braves hosted the Lady Maroon Devils at the Charles George Memorial Arena on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 6, and I witnessed a small, but very important, display of sportsmanship that I hope is contagious.
Now, to set the tone for those who might not have ever attended a Cherokee/Swain game, they can get…how do you say…contentious. But, that was not the case on Tuesday.
It was late in the game which was not close from the jump as Cherokee won big 82-19. Cherokee’s Creedon Arch went low in the paint for a short shot and was fouled. She hit the court. And, she was helped up by Dvdaya Swimmer, Joscelyn Stamper, and Marlee Hicks.
Sounds normal…well, Hicks plays for Swain County. She helped Creedon up with the other two girls and, in the process, showed great sportsmanship. The four players, all members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, treated each other with dignity and respect – something we could all learn from.
Honestly, all of the girls on both sides of the ball displayed great sportsmanship and just played the game. Any athletic contest that is one-sided can get contentious and tempers can flare. They did not on Tuesday. As a matter of fact, just the opposite.
Now, you might think something as small as helping a player up really isn’t that big of a deal. And, maybe it isn’t…but, I thought it was. In the past, I’ve seen some heated gymnasiums so it was nice to see an even-keeled game with players on both teams acting nicely.
A quote I’ve used in several On the Sidelines columns over the years seems very appropriate here. The late Knute Rockne, legendary Notre Dame football coach, once said, “One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it.”
Sportsmanship is one of those things that is hard to coach. But, it is coachable by example.
Bob Ley, retired ESPN legend, once noted, “If character is what you do when no one is watching, then sportsmanship is that conduct with everybody watching.”
And, yes, he’s right in my opinion. People are watching, and most importantly, the next generation of players is watching. The sportsmanship exhibited during the game was just a small act in the bigger play on Tuesday.
The Lady Maroon Devils showed how to lose in a sportsmanlike manner. And, the Lady Braves showed how to win in a sportsmanlike manner. Both are equally important. Some people say, it’s easy to win. Well, not always. I know in my years of playing volleyball, I didn’t always win gracefully. It’s a skill, and it’s a valuable one to learn as an athlete.
While not talking about basketball, Ralph Waldo Emmerson put it eloquently, “Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.”
In the end, it was nice seeing a good game with great sportsmanship – keep it up ladies.