An outsider’s take on IM’s state title game

My name is John Jester. I live in the Lansing area. After volunteering at the MHSAA boys basketball final and witnessing the events that transpired this past Saturday, I felt compelled to comment.

I’d like to start off by saying I am completely and totally impartial in this game and actually live close to Pewamo-Westphalia but was there volunteering for my daughter’s school. The events that transpired that evening are still stuck in my mind even several days later.

I witnessed the end of the game from courtside during a break from one of the concession stands. I don’t want to get into the arguments about the calls, because the first one is beyond dispute not a travel and was called by the incorrect official who was at the far end of the court and had no business overruling the official who was right next to the player. And, having reffed both basketball and hockey, the second was a judgment call that I don’t want to get into the ref’s thinking, even if I don’t agree with it, because it was made in a split second, and this call has been made a point of emphasis this year to all high school referees, both boys’ and girls’.

To have had both of these calls go against your team must have been heartbreaking, to say the least, and as I watched the final excruciating last seconds of the game, I was shocked to see how amazing your team and coach responded to such an absolute gutting. Your community should be so proud of how those young men and that coach comported themselves during the incident, as well as after the game during the press conference and especially afterwards during the runner-up medal presentation ceremony.

I specifically met one of your players — not sure who it was — after the game in the hallway while he was teary-eyed and shell shocked from what had just occurred and I told him how absolutely impressed I was by his team, and coach’s attitude. I quoted something that had been told to me almost 20 years ago by my high school coach “they won’t remember how you won, they just remember that you won, they will remember how you lose and that will reflect on your character more than any other action you will take on this field.” The young man looked me in my eye, shook my hand and told me thank you, which is more than I would have been able to do at his age after having suffered what could only be described as an absolute heartbreak.

I would like to finish by personally thanking your community for raising those young men and the absolute class with which they conducted themselves.”

I hope that your community is able to find the joy in what was still an amazing season for you all.