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November 26, 2012

HUNTER: Halftime can be special time for kids

SELLERSBURG — Is there anything more pure than the little kids who “play” at halftime at varsity basketball games?  

Let’s get past the whole “trying to make more money by getting people who rarely come” thing.

You are trying to generate a little money for the athletic department. But you also are trying to get younger players who may never come to a varsity game exposed to the environment.

Yes, the players get in free (usually the players are from a camp or youth team), but all family members must pay to get into the game. Great idea on both sides.

Anyway, is there anything more pure?

I recently watched detached as little girls played at halftime of the Silver Creek and Henryville girls’ basketball game and then watch my daughter, Madison, get to do it for the first time four days later and it was nice.

I have done it as a coach and experienced it before in the stands, but there is something innocent about it. The kids are running up and down for the pure joy of playing basketball.

They aren’t trying to impress their friends, their boyfriends or girlfriends, their parents, college scouts, coaches. They are just playing the game.

Even the crowd has zero agenda when it comes to playing time or shots taken. All family members are just so happy that their child is running up and down the court in front of others being a kid.

And what about when a child does make a shot?

Usually, after many throws, launches, or hopefully shots, one gets through the basket. I remember that euphoric rush from a gym full of people cheering for you and the slow motion that ensues for a few seconds.

For the first time in your young life, you are getting applause for doing something from lots of people, most whom you don’t even know.

It is funny to watch that child stop, look around, smile and sprint to the other end of the floor. Talk about motivation to play defense.

When the horn goes off, everyone cheers from both sides of the gym. The youngsters have earned the respect of both schools and as they head to their loved ones, do you think their feet are touching the ground?

Probably, but much lighter, I am sure.

And what do the parents/loved ones do when they get to them?

They smile, kiss and hug them.

There is no disappointment from mom and dad because they “lost,” that they didn’t play good defense, that they didn’t score enough, that the coach was a moron, that they could have done better and should have.

There will be no game tape to go over by the parents. There will be no replaying the game at home over and over.

But there will be ice cream, or stories told to others about playing in the big time the other night or better yet, how they scored on their “defender.”

Did I say pure?

It depends on your definition of “pure,” I guess.

If “pure” means something different to you, what I just described may be the complete opposite of pure and how unfortunate that is.

Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at

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