(NOTE: This column was published in today’s Gazette)
The message arrived in my e-mail inbox at 11:32 Friday night.
The author was a high school volleyball player who had competed at the state tournament earlier in the day.
Out of respect and because of the author’s age, her name and school are withheld.
Something was weighing on her mind, and for good reason:
“I would like to sincerely apologize regarding my behavior toward the photographers.
“At the end of the match, (our team) was very emotional and we were all crying and hugging each other. I was bawling in the arms of one of my teammates when I saw two photographers about 4 feet away from my face snapping photos of a very emotional and heartbreaking moment.”
It was a great match, one of the most suspenseful of a tournament full of great matches.
The winners cry in celebration and get to play another day.
The losers cry in despair. Their season is over. Maybe their career is over.
It’s raw emotion, as one of my co-workers suggested.
Matches like this are why you go to summer camps or wake up at 5 in the morning for two-a-days in August.
“I had a weak moment and thought for a second that it would lighten the mood for myself if I made an obscene gesture with my middle finger straight at the photographers.”
Lighten the mood?
Pick one: Tell a joke. Sing a song. Flip the bird …
“Right after I did it, I felt completely embarrassed and realized how unclassy, immature, and stupid I was for doing it.”
Right after you did it (and yes, I saw it as it happened), I thought back to my days as a high school athlete, albeit a mediocre one at best.
I contemplated the ramifications had I committed such an act.
And I shuddered.
The scruff of my neck would have been grabbed by my father.
I’d have been dragged off the floor.
It would have been ugly and humiliating. It would have been justified.
But that was the mid-’80s. Times have changed. Twenty years ago, we’d have been outraged by such a gesture. Today, we just shrug and shake our heads. And that’s more sad than the gesture itself.
“I did apologize later to the photographers but I feel like it wasn’t enough.
“I feel like a disgrace and that I did not represent (my school) well and I did not represent myself well.”
The moment of my bad decision has been re-playing in my mind over and over again and has dominated my thoughts even more than the last point of the match …
And your feelings are right on the money.
On the other hand, your sincerity appears legitimate. If your conscience convinces you to craft an e-mail at 11:32 at night, I don’t classify you as a phony.
Whether you face punishment is up to your school and for your parents to decide. Assuming you grow wiser from this, I feel your suffering has been sufficient.
Your own words describe your act as “unclassy, immature and stupid.” If this is the most unclassy, immature and stupid thing you do in life, you will have lived well.
“I am very sorry. I am truly embarrassed and I wanted to give a sincere apology.”
(Thoughts? Too harsh on the girl? Too soft??)