We hosted a four team 8th grade basketball tournament over the weekend, here in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Our boys gave it a good effort and finished second to Pierre Indian Learning Center. Crow Creek and Todd County also came up to take part. While the basketball action was exciting, my favorite moment came after we finished the first game. Since all the teams had arrived by then, members of our drum group took center court and sang the flag song. Many of our singers were still in their basketball uniforms, but they commanded respect as they honored the flag, the Lakota Nation, and all the people gathered for the day.
I noticed that when one of our players stepped to the free throw line, some of our junior high girls would call out the name of his girlfriend and giggle. After hearing that a couple of times I went up to the group and told them that if they really wanted to encourage our players, that was much more distracting than helpful. They needed to cheer for the players themselves. When I was younger, I would have ignored that and just let it pass to avoid possible conflict. But it’s the little things that give us an opportunity to teach respect and learn values, and I couldn’t silently let it pass.
I helped in the concession stand, where I could talk with students, staff and our visitors. The 7th grade girls also set up a lunch stand in the game room. They are raising money to buy warm up jerseys with their names on them for when they take the court next year as 8th graders. They went through lots of hot dogs and sloppy joes, as well as Valentine’s Day treats they baked.