Columbus Ohio Girls Win State Championship with Grace & Grit!

March 21, 2018



3 Things We Can Learn After The Buzzer Goes Off


Whether its a buzzer to start or end a game,  the hope is that your "life buzzer" will go off at some point.  It then becomes a question of what have you done or prepared to do to improve your chances for success.  Sports continue to play a major role in American society today.  Some of today’s more prominent athletes are not allowing others to define their level of patriotism by whether or not they kneel or stand for the national anthem, while others are pushing back when they are advised to shut up and dribble the ball.  It doesn't really matter how much money or fame you have, we can all play a role in improving the lives of others.  This weekend my wife and I went to the Ohio Girls Basketball Div III championship game where the Africentric Girls High School Basketball Team were crowned State Champs! We attended in support of one of the girls from our congregation and we also got caught up with the hoopla surrounding “March Madness” albeit at the high school level. Sports in many ways, tell us a lot about how we view ourselves and others.  Just like the two teams and fans sitting in their respective sections, we recognize that our country is separated by color, ethnicity, culture and more.  The events surrounding the game made me reflect on some of the issues facing many minority communities today.  


  1. Talk Must Be Followed Up By Action:  Simply “having a conversation”, or shouting in protest will not always produce the change we hope for in certain areas.  Africentric High School led for about 95% of the game as they appeared to have the more talented players.  As the score tightened up towards the end of the 2nd half, many of “our” fans (me too) became extremely irritated and frustrated about the perceived inequity in the officiating, and they may have had a point.   No one knew for sure, however, what I do know was that no amount of yelling or screaming appeared to change the way the game was being officiated.    This is exactly what we’re seeing at the highest levels in our country.  Our democracy is being tested in ways we would not have imagined two years ago, while many within the “co-equal” branches of government stand by and pretend nothing is happening.  The sad reality is that if we continue on the path of highlighting how unfairly we are being treated and take no steps to change, our children’s children will be complaining 50 years from now about some of the same issues.    

    2. Discern What’s Going On Beyond The Game Itself:  As we drove up to the arena, I instinctively noticed who was taking care of some of the ancillary responsibilities associated with hosting the game.  The exterior was manned by police officers, parking volunteers, vendors and bag checkers.  As we made our way into the arena you noticed custodial and food service workers, camera crews, reporters, ushers, announcers, coaches, players and referees.   Both groups had representation on the court, but there was a tremendous imbalance when it came to representation in all the support systems revolving around the game.  If our children’s vision of success resides only in what they see instead of something instilled in their spirit by our daily living, they will continue to think their voices may never be heard.   Having our young girls and boys focusing only on the game and not the planning, marketing, business, support and volunteerism involved with the game we are doing them a disservice.  Most of us don’t attend sporting events with the intent of running statistical numbers on who is working in marketing, broadcasting, security, parking, etc, but it becomes painfully obvious in some of our lives that as a group of people we may have a loud voice without being adequately representing or being represented.

    3. Be Gracious & Respect Your Opponent: As I watched the game I saw some obviously bad calls, but realize that this happens at all levels of sport.  Whether the obstacles the Africentric Nubians faced was  real or perceived, they still managed to work together, maintain their composure, execute their plays down the stretch and were gracious in victory.  According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the probability of playing one of the major sports collegiately for high school participants runs around 3%.  The number of athletes who make it to the professional ranks from college goes down to about 2% so you can see that it is definitely not a sure thing. The class they displayed I’m sure didn’t go unnoticed by their opponents, their supporters and college scouts who may have been looking to recruit them to play at their schools.  With the percentages of student-athletes moving on to college being so low, they would have done themselves a disservice to join us in complaining about everything….kudos to them, their parents and their coaches. 


These are life lessons we can and must share with our children in order to have positive mindset change and actions.   We must work hard to have more examples for our young people to see so as they can be the example to others (referees, police officers, sports journalist, vendors, coaches, etc.).  This basketball game in many respects highlights the possibilities of success despite the state of affairs in our country when it comes to politics, finances, education, family and more.   The outstanding example shown by Coach Will McKinney, his staff  and the team reminds us that we must continue to work hard, stay disciplined, and be gracious all aspects of life (sports, social, legal, financial, academic, spiritual, etc) in order to be the game-changers we are called to be.   So what steps can you take now, volunteer to be a mentor, develop a financial plan for college now,  become a volunteer coach,  give to one of your favorite charities doing great things in your community, etc.  For more information on this and other related life lessons purchase the book “Step Into Your Glorious Future” or visit me at





Marko Gittens, Author





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