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There’s a video news clip making the rounds on Facebook this week — I’m not sure why it’s popped up now, but it’s your typical feel-good story that everyone always seems eager to share so I guess it’s not too surprising. The lull between Halloween and Thanksgiving, maybe. Some group called Success Nation is passing it around. 

This morning when I signed onto Facebook, eight of my friends were recommending it, so I clicked. And, as they predicted, I cried.

Because that video didn’t make me feel good at all.

I looked it up on YouTube and the original videos about Jason McElwain’s amazing basketball preformance have millions of hits; the story dates back to 2006. I don’t recall it, but it’s the kind you see from time to time about a special needs kid who gets his shot in the final few minutes of a sports game — and makes good. In this case, the kid made exceptionally good; he scored 20 points in the final four minutes of his high school basketball team’s last game of his final season with the team.

The coach is interviewed explaining that after years of toweling sweat off other players, he wanted Jason (who is autistic, high functioning) to have a chance to feel what it’s like to wear that jersey.

I don’t know much about basketball, but I watched the video (I posted a similar one here) and wondered why the hell no one thought to have the kid play earlier? No one noticed he was pretty good at shooting baskets? If not for the kid’s sake, how about for the team?

It was one of the most condescending things I’ve ever seen. Maybe my hopes for Sophie are just too high, but I’m determined to see her play in more of the game than the last four minutes.

I suppose Jason McElwain got the last laugh. They made a Gatorade commercial about him, I learned during my YouTube search, and he appeared on the Today Show. Etc. He even got to meet then-President George W. Bush.

I wonder if he would have rather played the whole season. Now that would have been a tear-jerking story.

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Tags: Filed under: culture, Down syndrome by Amysilverman

10 Responses to “The Jason McElwain Video Made Me Cry — But Not for the Reason You Think It Did”

  1. I think your point is a valid one. You’re right….the kid should have been given a chance sooner. However, I think the video still serves the purpose of showing that kids with special needs are capable of so much more than we think. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I’d love to think that some other kid will be given a chance – sooner – because his coach, or teacher, or boss at work – saw this video.

  2. I’m with you.

  3. ugh. yeah, I do not feel inspired at all by these “inspirational” stories. and yet they keep coming. This is the one that’s going around local to me:

    yes, it’s just like a movie. exactly. a BAD MOVIE.

  4. My thoughts EXACTLY.

  5. Yup, that part is lousy, although we don’t know whether there were reasons he wasn’t on the regular team. It was moving — as for *any* kid, autistic, tough time, or no — to see how “for” him the fellow students and teammates were.

  6. I thought it was great! There is way more to playing a team sport than making several shots without any kind of interference. I was more impressed that this kid did a good job as manager-watching him help the team practice and cheering them on was awesome! I hope it shows people that kids with disabilities can still be part of a team.

  7. Amy, I completely agree.

  8. Totally there with you gf.

  9. Thank You!!!! You put my thoughts to words!!!!

  10. Hi… had your blog recommended to me as a friend. I have a special needs child and when that video link made the rounds, I felt like a total Scrooge because I didn’t share the same sentiments as everyone else. I was angry that everyone had short changed this kid for so long. Six 3-pointers in 4 minutes is not likely a fluke and I felt bad that he was never given a chance to develop his true potential as a basketball player. I think too often the non-special ed community is of the opinion that as long as they throw some bones every once in awhile, everyone should be happy. Condescending is the exact right word.

    I wrote a blog about the Rudolph Christmas special and totally pissed off a bunch of people. Luckily I also made some people think about the program a little differently.

    Thanks for writing such an insightful blog (all of the entries; not just this one)… Char

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