A word came to mind as I thought about Meadowlark Lemon. Lemon, of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters, passed away last Sunday. He was known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” with his nonstop chatter, comedic timing, and all-around skill on the court. I thought about all the times I saw the Globetrotters on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and live when they came to Richmond to play at the Coliseum. The games were always entertaining with plenty of laughs throughout.
Which leads me to the word on my mind.
Watching the Globetrotters was fun. Nobody remembered any of the final scores. They just remembered the music of “Sweet Georgia Brown”, the passing in the Magic Circle, all of the funny skits, and everyone having a good time.
I don’t think there are many places in sports where you can say there is space for fun. A “win or else” environment and a 24-7 information highway harps continually on who is doing well and who needs to be gotten rid of. Youngsters are guided into a singular sport and spend countless hours in practice, games, and travel all for the elusive Grand Prize at the end of the road (the college scholarship, the professional contract, and the adulation that comes along). Many parents are living out their dreams through their kids, at times pushing them mercilessly day in and day out.
Where’s the fun in that?
Remembering Meadowlark Lemon should remind all of us that even in our ultra-competitive age, there needs to be a time to lighten up. They kept score during Globetrotter games but do we remember the outcomes? We remember the games. We remember the players. We remember how much we laughed when we went out to the arena or watched on TV.
We had fun.