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Champion or Role-model? Freedom or Pressure?

On Friday I posted a video of Jason McElwain.  He's the autistic kid who set the last four minutes of a high-school basketball game on fire.

As his six 3-pointers sail in, the crowd go absolutely bananas.  It's exhilerating and heart-warming and all kinds of wonderful.

But then I watched this video.  Same kid, same game, but it left me with a very different feeling...

I'm probably making far too much out of this (tell me if you think so), but this video makes me worry for young Eric.

  --  'They expected Eric to love the game.  They didn't expect him to have autism...'

  --  'Terry Connolly has big dreams for Eric...'

  --  'Just maybe we can hold onto the hope that Eric can play basketball one day, it might only be for 10 minutes but... maybe one day...'

Leaving aside the point that Jason only played for four minutes... what's happening here?  Jason is being celebrated as a champion yes.  But very quickly, the hope he provides is turned into a model for emulation.  And the impression that's left (on me at any rate) is that Jason begins as a hero to rejoice in, but soon becomes a standard to meet.

There is a question for Eric's parents.  How will they 'preach Jason' to their son?  You see Jason's efforts could be used just to ramp up levels of expectation for Eric (which would do neither him nor the parents any good).  Or Jason could liberate the family through their joy in another's success.  Which is it to be: Law or Gospel?  Role model or Champion?  Pressure or Freedom?

If they leave Eric, ultimately, with Gospel who knows what he might achieve.  Literally, who knows?  That's the point of 'gospel preaching' - it liberates a person into any number of unforeseen paths.  He might even take up a proper sport, like cricket.

0 thoughts on “Champion or Role-model? Freedom or Pressure?

  1. John B

    The Friday video was so good because it allowed Jason's story to speak for itself. The ABC video is more about subjectively processing Jason's story and telling us how to think about it.

    I suspect that the video may have unintentionally cast Eric's parents in a bad light. We want to share our joys with our kids; and hope that they might have the opportunity to experience them if that should be their own choice. Autism is a "behavioral disorder", i.e, a category designation for people who act differently. Looking at Jason, I get the impression that he might well have been able to pursue playing basketball, if he hadn't been excluded because of the "autistic" label that had been attached to him. Jason is blazing a trail that gives hope to parents of kids like Eric, for his opportunities to experience this kind of joy, if he chooses, despite the label.

    "Because there are no fours." ~Antoine Walker, asked why he shoots so many threes.

    "Everybody pulls for David, nobody roots for Goliath." ~Wilt Chamberlain

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