Hip to Be Square at Roundball

Last post I talked about a possible trend against cynicism. Well, when it rains, it pours.

Mark Slatin tells us what happened at halftime at a recent Maryland Terrapins vs. Wake Forest basketball game.

I’ll just let Mark tell this story in his words:

The PA announcer introduced student contestants for the Pep Boys Fan Challenge. These two young men were competing for a year of free windshield washer fluid. I couldn’t make this stuff up! Regardless of where you sat that night, any fan could tell that both competitors had enjoyed their share of super sized Pepsi’s and grande nacho cheese tortillas.

The winning contestant would need to complete a “speed drill”. The goal? Dribble the ball from under one basket to the foul-line and back, then to the half-court line and back, then to the other foul-line and back, and finally to the far base-line before finishing with a successful basket.

The labored breathing started for both men as soon as they hit the first foul-line. As they reached the half-court line, one appeared to glance upward to see if an oxygen mask would mercifully drop from the Jumbotron. As they headed for the final turn, one warrior had gained, what they call in football, separation, from the other – nearly the full length of the court.

At this point, fans started to cheer. Not for the apparent victor, but to support the guy who was grasping onto hope…just to finish.

Then it happened.

The contestant who was gliding to an easy victory slowed down about eight feet in front of the basket, got down on all fours, and waited for his competitor, a complete stranger, to approach. As the athletically-challenged straggler huffed and puffed his way toward his competitor, he saw the offering of a human trampoline in front of the basket. Hands and knees now firmly planted on the hardwood floor, the first contestant pointed up to his own back.

The anticipation and noise level escalated as he neared with slow motion speed. Without breaking stride, the newly anointed crowd-darling picked up steam, took a final dribble, jumped on the back of the first contestant and slam dunked the ball to an erupting Comcast Center crowd.


Both men hugged and held each other’s hand in the air in victory as the video camera sent their image to the arena mega-screens. The Terps went on to win the basketball game; but, these men were the real victors that night.

By humbling ourselves and not seeking the spotlight, we build trust.

By giving credit instead of taking it ourselves (especially when we can), we build trust.

By doing what is unexpected, unnecessary and unselfish, we build trust; capturing the hearts of everyone in our arena. The one-year supply of windshield washer fluid is just a bonus.

What Mark said.