For nearly two decades, this has been the week when I became the most insufferable sports fan to those who don’t root for our local pro football team.
Blame it on the success of the New England Patriots and their nine Super Bowl appearances over the past twenty years. As fortune would have it, these appearances lined up with Belmont Day’s Friday Night Hoops winter sports celebration featuring our boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams facing off with our friendly rival, the Meadowbrook School. For me, this celebration of athletics emphasizes its importance as a critical part of whole-child education.
However, this year, the return of Friday Night Hoops and next Sunday’s Super Bowl brings two conflicting emotions. Welcoming fans back into the Barn has been a pure joy since the start of the month, and the prospect of a nighttime game with fans from both schools hints at a return to something we remember as normal: a community-oriented celebration, joyful to the core. The Super Bowl and the recent announcement of Tom Brady’s retirement may remind us just how important it is to celebrate excellence while you can. Father Time, they say, remains undefeated, so enjoy it while it lasts.
My reflection on Brady’s retirement as it relates to our Belmont Day athletes is this. As the media reflect on his excellence over the years, I find they focus a great deal on the product of his performance: the Super Bowl rings, the MVP trophies, and wins, above all else. But what has always compelled me about Brady has been the process. I am sorry to see him go because of his model work ethic. I am sad to see him go because there was little doubt about his joy in playing the sport he loves, whether you loved him or hated him. Excellence as a direct result of dedication and joy sounds a lot like the values we instill in our athletes at BDS.
More than anything, as an educator, I am drawn to the high-profile athletes of our time because of the role models they can be for our students. When women’s World Cup soccer comes around, I am pulling so hard for the likes of Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. And when it’s time for the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, I can’t wait to see Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff succeed and set examples for all of us, both on and off the court. And when scandal erupts in sports, hearing about the discriminatory hiring practices that keep Brian Flores from a head coaching job in the NFL is doubly disappointing.
And now, upon the retirement of one of Boston’s greatest athletes ever, I find myself grateful for the delight he provided on the field and how he has carried himself off of it. May we have another local sports role model to fill that void soon for both our students and (if, for no one else) your head of school.
Join us in the Barn next Friday, February 11, at 5:30 p.m. for the eighth edition of Friday Night Hoops. See you there and go Blue & Gold!