Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Reason To Play

Bobby was a football player; however, he wasn't a very good football player.  Though he had some talent, his heart just was not in the game.  He would often fumble the ball and avoid tackles whenever possible.  Worse yet, he would arrive late for practice wearing a dirty uniform and was always the last one to finish laps around the field.  On game days, Bobby was happy to just ride the bench. The other players, as well as all the coaches, wished Bobby would quit the team, but he never would.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, the day before the big homecoming game, and Bobby was once again waddling around the track in his dirty uniform doing his laps when a messenger ran out of the school office to hand the coach a piece of paper.  After reading the note, the coach blew his whistle and motioned for Bobby to come over.  "Bobby", the coach said.  "I have some bad news. Your father has had a heart attack and has been taken to the hospital.  You better go see him."

Bobby darted off the field, changed his clothes, then ran to the hospital.  Later that night, word was received that Bobby's father had passed away.  The next morning Bobby did not come to school; however, that evening about halfway through the first quarter of the big homecoming game, Bobby waddled out onto the field.

"Coach," Bobby asked,  "Can I play tonight?"  
 
Looking at Bobby in his dirty uniform the coach said, "No Bobby, you should be home with your family."
 
"Please  Coach.  I'd really like to play," Bobby repeated.  
 
The coach knew Bobby was a senior and this would probably be the last game he would ever play, but because this was the homecoming game with a rival school and the bleachers were packed with alumni, the coach said, "Maybe later, Bobby."

As the game progressed, it turned into a disaster for Bobby's team.  Though the other team had scored 21 points in the first half, Bobby's team was still at zero.  Following half-time, Bobby ran up to the coach and begged him to play.  
 
Again the coach replied, "Maybe later."  When the 4th quarter arrived, the opposing team made another touchdown making the score now 28 to 0.  There were only minutes to play.

Bobby, watching the clock, got up and ran over to the coach and asked, "Coach, can I please play?"  Realizing that nothing was going to change the outcome of the game at this point, the coach agreed and let Bobby go in.  Within minutes of being on the field, Bobby intercepted two passes and then tackled several opposing team players.  With only seconds to go, Bobby blocked and tackled so effectively his team was able to score its one and only touchdown.

Even though Bobby's team lost 28-7, it was obvious to all that Bobby was the most valuable player and, as a token of  appreciation, the team gave Bobby the game ball.  After most of the players had left the field, the coach walked over to Bobby and said, "Bobby you really surprised us tonight.  Why didn't you ever play like this before?" the coach asked.

With his head down, Bobby replied, "Coach, to tell you the truth, I never wanted to play football.  It was my Mom and Dad who wanted me to play." 
 
Puzzled, the coach said, "Bobby, I don't ever remember seeing your parents at any of our games."  
 
Bobby said "I know, Coach.  My Mom couldn't.  She died when I was 8."

"Well, what about your father?" the coach asked.  "If he wanted you to play, why didn't he ever come to any of the games to watch you play?"

"Well you see Coach, my Dad was blind," Bobby replied.

Taken aback by Bobby's response, the Coach asked, "Well Bobby, why in the world did you play so good tonight?" Without hesitation, Bobby replied "Tonight, Coach, was the first night my Daddy was able to watch me play."