Editorial: Simple act, terrific moment

Dec. 20, 2012 @ 05:27 PM

Television cameras didn’t capture the moment. It happened during a time-out of Duke’s basketball game with Cornell Wednesday night.

Jameson Graham, an 8-year-old from Nashville, Tenn., was at the game with his father, a Duke graduate. Students have gone home for the holidays, so bleacher seats usually filled with the fabled “Cameron Crazies” were now filled with some Crazies but also with hundreds of other people who don’t normally get to see their favorite team.

Graham wore a blue jersey with “21” on it, though it didn’t have Amile Jefferson’s last name on the back. He wore a smile and cheered mightily throughout the game. He was located on the front row, at a gap between two press row tables.

At a time-out in the second half, veteran ACC referee Roger Ayers came by with a request.

“I need you to do something for me. How about holding this until I get back?” Ayers said, handing the unsuspecting Graham the game ball.

Talk about a kid lighting up like a Christmas tree, Graham did while Ayers slipped away toward midcourt. Graham, beaming, looked at his father and did what was asked. Truly, how many times have we seen kids watching high school or college games near the stands, who just want to touch the game ball? Or even the warm-up balls?

Ayers got thumbs-up signals from many, returned, and told him “good job” and thanked him. The game went on. It was just a small moment, but one to savor for a child.

An innocent child, much like the ones making the news out of Newtown, Conn. We don’t know if last week’s tragedy prompted Ayers, but we do know the children all around us are getting bigger hugs, an extra ounce of patience and a general benefit of the doubt this week.

And we like it, regardless of the prompting. Children are dear and special to us, and we need to let them feel it. Too many grow up without a two-parent home, or without both biological parents, and too many are learning way too much to prevent them from enjoying the spoils of childhood.

We think about children more at Christmas, that is true, but we need to have them foremost in our thoughts always.