It’s just a game. It’s just dribbling a ball and throwing it through a metal hoop with a net. So why do sports have such a stronghold on us?
It’s likely because of big moments. Those can’t-miss moments that make us feel alive. And March is full of those moments.
What do you think of when it comes to big moments in sports? Maybe a monstrous slam-dunk or a game-winning three-pointer?
You probably don’t think about a layup in the first 20-seconds of a Vermont basketball game, but that’s precisely the play that led to a two-minute-long ovation in front of a packed house this week.
A commitment bigger than basketball.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 4, 2020
Never underestimate the power of one strong-willed kid overcoming a challenge.
That layup represented more than two points on the scoreboard. It represented five years of survival for Josh Speidel. Five years of enduring surgeries, pain, rehab, and recovery. It represented hope for a young man who sees a future for himself a little more clearly.
Speidel survived a car crash five years ago, but he suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent four weeks in a coma.
He was a top recruit for Vermont and likely envisioned making hundreds of layups and baskets over the course of his college basketball career. It was all taken away from him in the blink of an eye.
Credit coach John Becker and the University of Vermont for honoring Speidel’s scholarship and allowing him to remain close to the program throughout his recovery. Five years after that car crash, Speidel finally realized his dream of starting and scoring in a college basketball game. The crowd erupted and Speidel was embraced by teammates and opponents on the floor.
It was a big moment. A moment that surely inspired anyone who witnessed it.
“It was the best two-points I ever scored,” said Speidel.
I can only imagine that he visualized that moment over the last five years. It likely motivated him through each physical therapy session and any other challenges he had to overcome during his recovery.
Each athlete has to eventually realize when his or her playing days are done. Then they have to picture life after sports when the final whistle blows and you must change your entire focus in life.
For Josh Speidel, he leaves the game thankful to have his life.
It’s just a game, right?