Dec 14 Sportsmanship for a cause

When events occur that put our country into a state of disbelief or uncertainty, it seems we have a tendency to turn to sports to help us understand there always is light at the end of the tunnel.

But there’s been an ongoing campaign, sometimes overlooked now that it has been going for a time that has raised some tremendous awareness – maybe as sports only can do – and more importantly buckets of money for research.

But last week a pair of northwest coaches even took it a step further.

The focus today is cancer.

I started to say awareness but unfortunately there’s plenty of that since the wretched disease has seemingly affected all of our lives in some way.

But with the active involvement of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the publicity brought by the courageous speech of Jim Valvano: Who could forget “don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” which to this point has helped $87 million dollars to be raised for the mission of the American Cancer Association to find a cure.

Coaches vs. Cancer yearly utilizes the basketball court – with coaches donning red sneakers – to remind us of the ongoing battle that can only be won by a sustained research effort fueled by even more publicity.

But I worry it has become old hat – that it is something that some programs just go through because it is PC and that players don’t recognize the significance of their involvement.

But last week a pair of traditional rivals – good friends however – took it to a different level, thus garnering even increased print and electronic publicity.

Washington State Coach Ernie Kent, a veteran Pac 12 mentor having also coached at Oregon, paid $2,000 in a fundraiser for an all- access pass to a University of Idaho game.

The Vandals, also coached by a veteran Don Verlin, donated the package that included pre-game meal and other activities, an opportunity to occupy a space on the Vandal bench and even call a play.

The two schools, long adversaries, are but eight miles apart.

And the game held additional significance because both coaches lost their fathers to the disease.

The two shook hands as usual but Kent took a spot on the Vandal bench next to Verlin, the tip to the Cougars, and stayed there until the ball changed hands.

Both said it was one of the most important moments in their coaching career.

You can find the score on ESPN, The Associated Press or elsewhere but does it matter?

Just sayin

I’m Mick Holien


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