Commentary: Does it Make a Difference, the Color of the Ball?

By Robert Easley November 17, 2011
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Categories: Our Scene, Sports

There were 12 minutes to go in the pregame shoot-around. The first game of the WNBA Finals at the Target Center was off the hook with energy. The audience spilled into the Target Center like cascading water. It was apparent early on that this was a special night. The very first appearance of the Lynx in the finals was not only historical, it was FUN!

Arriving early affords the opportunity to watch the relationship between players, in relaxed game mode. I watched the ease with which the Lynx team went through their drills and shoot-arounds. They were relaxed-fluid, and precise, as a team. The bricks are the media favorites on any team that get the most media attention. The other 60% of the team are the undecorated cement. It is the undecorated cement that give teams character and, when needed, can and will get up!

One undecorated moment happened between Whalen and Hornbuckle. On the conclusion of the shoot-around, Whalen shot Hornbuckle a sharp pass and Hornbuckle pulled up and hit a crisp 28-footer. This pass and shoot repeated two more times, with Hornbuckle hitting most of the shots. Hornbuckle stopped the action and implored, dared, challenged Whalen to send her the same crisp pass …BUT… through Whalen’s legs. One hard pass, one bounce, directly to hands. Whalen looked at Hornbuckle who passively pressured, more imploring than chiding, but she wouldn’t accept “no” either.

The MVP brick and veteran cement looked at each other and, with no words spoken, Whalen whipped a perfect one-bounce pass to Hornbuckle. Without hitch or hesitation, Hornbuckle pulled up and drilled a three-pointer. Both smiled. Just another pass, nothing big…a case of a brick and the undecorated cement that bonds it. The brick got to add a new pass to her already impressive arsenal. The cement veteran did what she does naturally; supportively challenges, adds a little “veteran funk,” then relaxes and teaches. But for those ten minutes Hornbuckle also hit every shot.

Both were ready for whatever the night would bring. On their way to a championship they were teammates, equal, single minded, determined!

***

As our society clumsily grapples with some of the more mundane and almost laughable issues, like our military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, obvious questions slide out and stink up the room like a silent fart.  One significant question might be: If you had the mightiest democratic military in history, would it really make a difference if some of its members were or were not gay in its functioning?  Or in observing archaic same-sex prohibitive marriage laws a similar question might be posed: What state can legitimate who loves whom?   Or, many Church edicts on who shall and shall not minister based on gender. Once again, let us all ask: Does God really care? It should be noted that that religion, like the military, is a team very much like an athletic team–and that all teams needs winners to perpetuate and continually grow into a positive supportive system.

We all want to be part of a winning system or team–whether that be athletic or patriotic, local or national.  We want to be part of a “Winner.”

Maybe, as a whole, healthy, high-functioning societal family, we want to view our Minnesota Lynx team as an athletic example of the type of societal team we want to be a part of.

By utilizing our best community asset–the Minnesota Lynx–as an example, let us review and reclaim those traits and behaviors that can bring out our highest character as a community.

Although the Lynx as a team has a hierarchy, the team members think of themselves as just that–a team. Each individual has value, mutual respect, a sense of belonging, and all are given opportunity to support that value by contributing to a larger good, which is called a team.

Some were drafted higher or went to bigger schools with larger-budget athletic programs, but does it really make a difference to a teammate what school you went to? Can Whalen not play with Moore because U Conn has more gifts than the U of M? It sounds silly, but much of our society is fractionalized by much of the same type of silly logic. PEOPLE from divergent points can work, build, and play well together–if they have the will to do so.

While each member of the Lynx team was mentored and coached under different programs by different coaches; can they all come together under one common philosophy and contribute what they have learned individually? You bet they can! That is, if they have the common will to do so. The Twin Cities are a collage of nationalities and regionalities, and that diversity could prove to be the best feature of our society. That is if we have the common will to employ that diversity for the community good.

The Lynx deliberately went to great effort to develop its second team to be as strong and capable as its first, or starting team. Perhaps we could develop and put extra effort in supporting those on our “societal” second team. The results may surprise us in the short run, and become key players down the stretch.  A little extra effort and a little more playing time works wonders in the positive development in the entire team.

The Minnesota Lynx team did not draft players based on skin color. It has not often been pointed out that Lyndsey Whalen is the only white player on the team–I don’t think we really noticed. It is a good thing that nobody notices, or cares. It is only proven that Lyndsey is a bad sista’ on whatever team she plays–regardless of the predominate pigmentation. The example there and that we should be teaching our children is: Learn to be patient and don’t broadcast how great you are–track with the system, not above it.  If you’re good you can play anyplace with anyone or on any team confidently, enthusiastically, not with in-your-face false bravado that often accompanies super athletes. The Lynx built a sanctuary-fortress that home support provides.

If you had a great team, or a great system in the making or currently existent, would you require the members of the team to inform you and the rest of the world who was gay?  First of all, it’s none of your damn business, secondly, but more importantly, it doesn’t make any difference. All parties who have displayed their competence and willingness to be part of that system based on hard work, personal effort, and loyalty (to that system or team) makes themselves unrestricted teammates. Period!

Can you look at the Lynx roster and say with total certainty who is gay? No you cannot. And, in the context that makes the only difference00–regarding them as teammates–it makes no difference at all. They are the WORLD CHAMPIONS.

Let us develop a society full of Champions by allowing the things that make no difference to fall by the wayside and re-examining the good things within our reach to serve as examples of what we can be while there is still time for us to “win the big one.”

The Lynx are the new face of what was.  Minneapolis and St.Paul, as well as the state of Minnesota, have changed in both demographics, color, sensitivity, and realities. Some changes have been for the better, some changes have and are simply CHANGE. In the currency of “now” the only thing that matters is our ability, our commitment to a grand dream, a well thought-out plan to get us there, and the common belief that “together” we can conquer obstacles to share fruits of our labor and, indeed, WIN THE BIG ONE. Our society just needed the Minnesota Lynx to show us how!

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