The story about Ike Ditzenberger - a high school football player who has Down syndrome and scored a TD - has been making the rounds through the Ds community. Here is the video clip of how his touchdown came to be.
This type of news article comes along every so often. It's not a story I haven't heard before in high schools across the nation.
I do have to admit to becoming just a little bit ... jaded ... when reading the articles. While I'm excited for the positive news article and happy for the individuals involved, I'm also just a little bit conflicted about the whole thing.
There is a small part of me saying, "ok but they let him score the TD. He was only put in the game at the very end. He was put in the game when the victory or defeat was already well in hand."
Yes, I have had those thoughts. I remember one article where the play was run and the TD scored, but the points didn't actually count, they didn't go in the official scoreboard. I think that's when I might have become a little jaded about it all.
In this instance the points did actually count for the game and the opposing team actually lost out on having a shut-out against their rivals since they were winning 35-0.
Ike's coach did go to the opposing coach to say he was putting Ike in and asked the opposing players to just let Ike run 10 or 20 yards before tackling him. The players said they understood and that was it. However, what the players did was let Ike run 51 yards for a TD. The football players decided to do this on their own without any of the coaches asking them to do that. They gave up that shut out on their rival's home turf.
My first reaction was to think "yeah it's a nice feel-good story ... but ... "
"Ike Ditzenberger is helping players learn a lot more than just football at Snohomish — they're learning compassion."
It is a reminder of the infinite capacity of the human heart. It is about Mark Perry's compassion. It is about the ability of the young players from Lake Stevens to understand the importance of the moment and act selflessly when it would have been so easy to be selfish. It is about the Snohomish team's unconditional love of their teammate and about Ike's parents' love for their child."We'd love to be undefeated, but I think my kids are learning more than just Xs and Os and football. And if they learn to treat another human being with humanity and compassion, we're all going to be better off."
"They (Snohomish players) set aside the handicap and saw the person first. They recognize the handicap secondly and they accommodate and adapt to that."
Isn't that what all parents who have a child with a disability want for their child? To be surrounded by people like that? To have people see their child as a person first? To accommodate and adapt?
After I wiped the tears from my eyes I realized I needed to not be so jaded about these news articles. I needed to see the bigger picture too and see beyond the initial story line about a touchdown being scored.