By John M. Hockett
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It’s March. The smell of popcorn, the shrill sound of whistles, echoing balls being bounced and the Cinderella style stories of what might or might not pervade our lives, if only for a month or so.
The culmination of several months of games and even more preparation, as championships are constructed in the off-season, abound and flood our lives as we discard the vestiges of winter and prepare for spring and the eventual summer.
The Lady Tigers of Norman High School recently finished a season full of life’s ups, downs and seemingly everything in between. With a lineup of only three seniors and a decision to play a group of freshmen, the Lady Tigers started its season clearly against the odds.
They won some games that some thought were impossible for them to win, lost some they probably could have won and, through it all, gained so much more than a final score will ever communicate. They were all recipients of a heavy dose of life. We are blessed to live in Norman, Okla., and have the Norman Public School system-valuing education at all levels.
While we celebrate sports and, at times, may even live vicariously through our student-athletes across the system, Norman has equally important and vital extra and co-curricular activities providing its students opportunities to test life’s waters and, more importantly, their own values, interests and abilities.
You don’t have to look far to know about Norman Public Schools’ excellence as evidenced by the many opportunities it provides its students.
Bot Ball (robotics) teams have excelled to the highest levels, DECA clubs have connected students with the world of work in very meaningful ways, vocal and instrumental bands and the other performing arts demonstrate the richness of talent in our young people, and leadership opportunities abound in many other areas for our Norman students, too numerous to mention here.
All of this comes from a supportive citizenry, a dedicated school board and engaged groups of administrators, teachers and support staff in all of Norman’s schools, kindergarten through twelfth grades.
Is it a perfect system? Probably not, though it does what many school systems around the country seemingly fail to do: provide a high-quality education and opportunities to practice life in a supportive environment, with a safety net, prior to entering the work world. So, coming full circle, we are back to basketball-bracketology, the Final Four, the big dance and, of course, March Madness.
This time of the year really is a microcosm of our own lives because it mimics all of the other months. To some, it’s just a period with an inordinate amount of basketball games flooding the airwaves, newspapers and the Internet, large and noisy crowds at sports eateries and a lot of fuss about a game.
For those who truly “see,” basketball is much more than a game. Basketball is life — ripe with glory, agony and, yes, even defeat. Best get playing, for every day truly is our “big dance.” See you on the court of life.
John M. Hockett is assistant dean of OU’s Gaylord College ofJournalism and Mass Communication.
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