The generous show of sportsmanship epitomizes the principles advocated by the Catholic Youth Organization, which oversees parish-based sports for kids in Brooklyn and Queens.
The incident “showed the humanity, Christianity, and sportsmanship of the kids,” CYO Director Joe Catanello said afterwards. “The fact that they jeopardized themselves winning the game says a lot about the kids and the coach.”
Catenello added, “I’m proud of this because this is what I’m trying to instill. [CYO] is not a training ground for the NBA.”
Nora Nolan, Our Lady of Hope’s parish athletic representative and a liaison between the coach and players, emphasized the importance of keeping the games close so kids can still feel good about themselves whether they win or lose.
She believes that allowing the losing team to feel discouraged promotes a “win at all costs” attitude, something not condoned by CYO.
“This organization is for every child of every level of ability,” Nolan said. “When Mike saw that his team was of a higher ability, he knew that he didn’t have to win the game at the cost of another team’s self-esteem.”
Nolan, who has a 10-year-old child enrolled in the program, said everyone in the organization plays an important role in the development of the participating kids. She said it is especially important for coaches, referees, parish athletic representatives and parents to serve as positive role models for the kids.
“Everybody wants to get involved in it for the right reason. It really is a full time job, but it’s worth it because it keeps them in a positive environment,” said Nolan. “If we can get one kid off the street and actively participating, we consider it a success.”