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A hope note

It was the perfect season. We went 11-0, capping the year with a 13-0 victory over Carthage in the Tobacco Bowl. The year was 1958. The Red Raider football team of Manchester, Tenn., would not go undefeated again over the next half century. I received an announcement in the mail this week that our winning team will re-assemble in October to celebrate what we achieved 50 years ago.
What has being a part of that championship season meant to my life? In almost every way, it has been a positive. Some moments are as vivid as if they happened yesterday. I still chuckle when I relive my best plays; I still grimace when I remember my worst plays. As a team, we experienced the thrill of being underdogs who took down a giant, of having grateful strangers press fistfuls of dollars into our hands after we won a big one (money I, of course, humbly refused!), of having our pictures printed in the Manchester Times and even the Nashville Tennessean. We were ‘ for one moment in time ‘ simply the best.
On the other hand, a torn cartilage in my right knee reminds me every day of a high and painful price I am still paying for high school glory.
A letter to the editor in another newspaper the other day, written by a grandfather, criticized the awards ceremony at an elementary school. After the soccer and softball teams and cheerleaders were presented their awards, the parents of those kids got up and took their kids home before the chess teams got their awards.
What is more important in the long run, physical or mental achievement? I’m convinced both can be invaluable, even for a lifetime. But if I had to choose between the two, I’m with the chess players.