It was an incredible game. But more importantly, it was an experience that gave me Perspective— yet not in the way I imagined.
A close childhood friend of Mark’s gave us some great seats to a handful of Cards games this year. Mark enjoyed treating each of the kids to a one-on-one night in the ‘fancy’ luxury seats. And yes, I got my very own one-on-one night of basketball with Daddy, as well. Some of the tickets were to seats right behind the players’ and coaches’ bench — and that’s where Mark and I sat for their game against Florida State.
A ‘Louisville transplant’, I never really cared about college basketball until I married into a family who very much was and is. (You should see these three brothers when they watch UofL games together. Ay yai yai.) But over the past 14 years, I have become somewhat (okay, extremely) into the UofL basketball program. So, naturally, I was extremely excited to be sitting behind the players– I just love them. But, oh my word. I didn’t realize that “right behind the players” was, literally, right behind the players.
When Charlie sat behind the bench with Mark weeks ago, the perspective from ‘TV Land’ looked like they were above the players just a bit, like on a riser behind them, like not in dabbing distance. As a reply to something I said on the way to the game, Mark reminded me that if I jumped over the teeny black curtain blocking me from their personal space, that I would be promptly and quite forcibly removed from the center. (In retrospect, I am most grateful for that reminder. He must’ve known that his wife had the potential to be an at-risk fan.)
So as we filed into our chairs and cozied up next to the folks on either side of us, and I realized our proximity to where the team’s chairs were placed… well, I just couldn’t shut up. Me, to poor Husband and everyone within earshot:
“Oh my gosh. I am so star-struck. Oh my gosh, I cannot believe this. Oh my gosh, he is literally RIGHT THERE! Oh my gosh, there’s COACH! Oh my gosh, it’s DONOVAN!!! And Q!!! And Lee! Oh my gosh, look how cute Trey is! And Onuaku!!! Awwwww… it’s Mango! Poor Mango… you know he wants to play so badly! Oh, look! There’s Spalding! And oh my gosh… have I mentioned that I am soooo star struck?!”
At this point I am certain Mark was beginning to worry about his decision to bring me here. And perhaps the guy sitting next to me was worried, as well.
After I reeled in my giddiness and accepted the fact that this was indeed my reality for the next two hours, I began to enjoy the moment like a semi-normal human being. But I admit that (at times) I was paying more attention to the players on the bench and their actions and reactions than I was to the players on the court. As I sat there containing my emotions, I thought to myself, “what an incredible perspective this is. Wow… I had no idea.”
I loved our position in relation to the players and coaches. But more than that, I loved the point of view — the slant — the interpretation — that my position behind the bench afforded me.
During warm-ups before the game, I told Mark that (despite my being ‘star-struck’) I was surprised that the players did not seem larger-than-life to me. Well, maybe except for the ones who were approaching seven feet. (They are BIG.) Anyway, I said something to the effect of, “They’re really just a bunch of boys here to play basketball.” That is the sense that they gave me, and I loved that about them. No big shot attitudes, no haughty presences — just camarades having fun cutting it up together, just boys who love the game of basketball and give it their all. I loved being privy to that perspective, as I had never experienced it before Wednesday night. It’s odd to me that the perspective from farther up in the stands (and certainly from TV Land) makes them seem larger than life, whereas my up-close-and-personal perspective made them seem like ‘just boys who are here to play basketball’. Hmm.
So because of this new perspective,
I was able to feel a part of the opening ‘ceremonies’. To see these players cheering one another on, and to see the genuine affection given to them by their Coach… well, I might have had some ‘mist’ in my eyelashes. (I am such a sap.)
And because of my perspective,
I was able to hear that adorable, well-mannered, polite, handsome freshman Donovan Mitchell reply, “Yes, Sir” to Coach when he yelled directions at him from the sideline. (And can I add any other superlatives regarding Donovan? Yes. But I will refrain because it might get creepy. Okay, one more: when you’re sitting so close to him, you can see that he has beautiful skin. Ha ha.) But seriously, during a game play, the player turns around and replies, “Yes, Sir” to his Coach?! So cute.
And because of my perspective,
I was able to hear Coach scream some slightly ‘colorful’ language to Donovan when he messed up something or other (I swear, I thought the boy did everything just perfectly, but whatevs, Coach). That exchange from Coach gave Mark and I a great chuckle– and the realization of just how intense the game is for these players, even when we are 30 points (!) ahead. (I’ll just say I would not want to sit behind the bench during a game against UK. I mean, language. Can you imagine?! Then again, it would probably be comparable to the language coming from Mark in the privacy of our den.)
And because of my perspective,
I was able to watch the players support their teammates from the bench. To hear their words of encouragement as they each entered or left the court. To see the water boys (are they even still called that?) place towels on the players’ shoulders and respectfully press on their shoulder in support as they did. And of course, to see our Hall of Fame Coach right in front of us — doing what he does best. (I refrained from taking tons of photos of Rick because I was attempting to be polite, but man, I really wanted one of him up-close-and-screaming. He does that a lot. And hey, he is really good at it. And I also enjoyed seeing Coach up-close-and pacing. He does that a lot, too. And he’s good at that, as well. He’s the most sophisticated intense pacer I’ve seen.)
And oh, here’s Charlie’s perspective from his place on the sofa in our den:
Anyway, the whole perspective thing got me thinking after we arrived home and in the days that followed. We each have our unique perspectives, based on our life experiences. We each have events or viewpoints that shape us and bring different perspectives to the table. And each perception has value — whether you are looking in from a distance, or seeing something right before your eyes. So are any of our perceptions wrong? Are any of them right? Or does each perspective have truth of its own? A couple of events in the past weeks have made me think about perspectives from a different slant. And I have realized that one lens is just as valuable as the other. Each and every person’s perspectives have worth and deserve respect, and I need to remember that… even when another’s perspective doesn’t align with my own.
And as I look back on game night, I am surprised that I found it to be material for In The Messy — because there really wasn’t anything messy about it. But when I think about from where each of these boys (okay, men) and coaches have come, I know that there has been messiness along the way. For some, way more than others. But that only makes me look for the beauty all the more. Because the beauty is always there. Always. And sometimes it just takes a new Perspective to realize it.