Be you

June 4, 2008
By Khiry Gordon, Philadelphia, PA

It was the first tournament of the season, the championship game was nearing an end and there was no chance of us winning, but if had been watching me you would have thought it was a close game by the way I was playing. I was still fighting for every loose ball and scrapping with the other team. There were about two minutes left and coach Cleave decided to take me out of the game. After the game was finished, we entered the locker room and I could not help but cry. I toppled over into my lap to hide my tears, wondering to myself what I could have done better. Although I know I am human and have flaws, I felt that there could have been so much more I could have done to help the team win. I talked with the coach and he congratulated me on a game well played and although we lost, I ended up making the all tournament team. A year ago I might have been happy with this, but I have changed a lot since then.

Two months later at the Trenton high tournament, the fourth quarter came so quickly. The score was close, no thanks to me who had been playing my worst game of the season. It seemed like every time I received the ball, the whole team was guarding me, and the crowd was screaming at me every time I even touched the ball. The time was going by and we were making a run when I experienced the worst feeling I had felt all season; a boy came down the lane and I stepped in front of him to prevent the basket. We fell and the referee blew the whistle. I rose to my feet and the referee signaled a foul on me; he smiled at me and then told me I had fouled out the game. The crowd went crazy, screaming louder than they had all game, and to me it felt as though the gym had begun to shake. I looked around in disbelief, and as I walked to my bench, I began to cry. This was no ordinary crying; I was balling, screaming like a child not getting his way. I felt as though I had failed everyone; I went to the end of the bench and began to calm down, trying to explain to myself that it is just a game. I then began to think about the fact that this was the final time I would be able to play this game again because I was graduating, so I had indeed failed my teammates and coaches. As we walked away defeated, my head down not looking anyone in the eye, I noticed my mom at the door. She pulled me to the side and told me “pick your head up son and never be down on yourself because you gave it your all and that’s what really matters”.

I look back to the season before this one and see that I was a totally different person. As a junior I cared solely about all the wrong things, not caring about all the things that mean the most to me, not only in basketball but in life. I now see that I was selfish and egotistical. The only things I cared about were myself and looking cool. This year these games of basketball showed my maturity as a person. The crying to me shows my passion for what I am doing; I do not care what people think of me because I have to be true to myself. Although at first I was reluctant to let everyone see and hid while I cried, I now realize that the most important thing in life is to just be you. People today get caught up in being accepted by everyone else so that they take on different personas. They try to either look “cool” or “tough” so that they will be accepted by their peers. I feel men do this by mistreating girls or talking about them in a manner which is demeaning. Although they are making them selves look more masculine they know what they are doing is wrong. I look at this and see that it is sad that it has come to this. I now see that portraying something that you are not hurts because you sometimes don’t get to speak your mind or show your true feelings.

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