All Kids Are Gifted, A Sports Metaphor
by Cathy Marciniak
Max was 6'2" in seventh grade. When he played club basketball during middle
school, the coaches were held to a very strict set of rules: every player plays,
every game, and no player gets more than 4 minutes on the court; no exceptions.
This is about fun, and sportsmanship, after all, and fairness means everyone
gets the same thing. In his 4 minutes Max consistently scored 18 points or more,
until the opposing teams caught on to the strategy of fouling him out in the
first 70 seconds.
By the 9th grade he was 6'8", and there were fewer constraints on his
playing. He got used to certain assumptions made about him -- that he only got
good grades because he was a star athlete, for example, or that he was a ball
hog, that he only scored so well because of his height, that he was
undisciplined. He loved to play, but frequently wished that he could be just
tall, or just an average athlete.
Now he's in 12th grade and 7 feet tall. Everywhere but the basketball court,
where his height is an advantage, he's a freak. Girls won't date him, guys make
stupid jokes about how the weather is up there and call him "Stretch," as though
that's original. He's being scouted by division I universities, and it looks
like he may -- finally -- be coached by someone who knows what he's doing, who
can make him sweat and learn skills he doesn't have yet, and where he may
actually have some serious competition. He knows that division I coaches get
EXACTLY 9.9 scholarships per year, to allocate for the entire team.
Now, Max would be happy to be an invited walk-on, for a shot at a real
challenge, but he gets signed by Hoops U. The day he signs the commitment
letter, someone in the booster club congratulates him and adds, "I know just how
you feel. My son is 5'11". Honestly, I think we put way too much emphasis on
sports and not enough on whether you're a *good person.*"
The local paper carries an editorial: "All students are athletes. Every
single one. I mean it." When half the populations of Indiana and North Carolina
say, "Lady, you're an idiot," the writer submits a clarification. She really
meant to say, "all students have an athletic ability. Some are good at badminton
or dodgeball, some at division I basketball, and really, isn't love the most
Reprinted with permission of the author.
printed from Hoagies' Gifted Education Page,
Original URL is