Op-Ed—Greeley Spirit: “Put Some Clothes on!”

December 18, 2009
by Lee Seham

In this Great Recession, one of the best entertainment values going is a Greeley basketball game. And I’m not just saying that because it’s free. Nor am I saying it because my kids play basketball – they don’t.

I went out of a sense of obligation. I met an enthusiastic young man at our church who is on the team and I told him I would go. I made my family come with me. I am so very glad I did.

By game time, the gymnasium was packed and you could feel the energy. As each Greeley player was announced, his run through a gauntlet of teammates ended in a signature greeting: a pleasing mix of chest bumps, twisted gyrations and finger flutters.  Just the right combination of hipster cool and deliberate silliness. At least I hope that’s what they were going for.

Our team is really quite good.  They play with finesse and at a pace that gets your heart rate up by just watching them.

And the Quakers are Churchillian in their grit and determination: They never gave up, they never gave up, they never gave up. Down by fourteen points they battled back to take the lead deep in the third quarter. Breathtaking.

They went on to suffer a double-digit loss. And as I stood witnessing our defeat, I felt overwhelmed by the tendentious impulses of a litigator: if the calls had gone the right way, if the other team had played with our level of integrity, . . . and, well, if our free throw percentages had been a bit higher. In any event, our loss (note that I say “our”) only ever so slightly diminished my sense of inspiration.

Equally inspiring was the deportment of the loyal classmates who filled the stands to capacity and overflowed into the courtside areas. They sang, they chanted, they waved tremulous “magic fingers” for each Greeley free throw (that didn’t work so well) and did their level best to jinx the other team (that worked occasionally).

And they did it all with spirit and good humor. When a scantily-clad girl from our opponents’ side led a derisive chant directed at our team, the Greeley students chorused back: “Put some clothes on.” Imagine that sung in the heavy cadences of “Let’s Go Yankees.” Yeah, that’s it.

I really don’t like kids very much – other than my own. But, I liked these kids.

They stood for the entire game. And I stood with them. In part, because that was the only way I could see the game. But also, because their energy was contagious.

I am a “Buy America” guy, in part because I think the amount of debt our generation is placing on this generation is a scandal. Since our country now makes so many fewer things, I try to buy gift-experiences:  dinner and a show, a massage, a trip to Scranton – the Electric City.

This was an experience. The entrance was free and the hot dogs – sold by loyal dads – are reasonably priced. This holiday season, catch the Greeley spirit.

Lee Seham is a labor, employment and immigration attorney who has lived in Chappaqua for 12 years.

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